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Imagining Victoria: tourism and the english image of British Columbia’s capital

Date

2012

Authors

Smith, David A.

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University of Washington

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Article

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Abstract

Since the 1920s, tourism boosters have promoted Victoria, B.C., as a quaint, “jolly good” capital—more English than England itself—an image of the city that has become widely accepted. Tourist advertising, that “magic system” used to convince tourists that a particular destination will provide a rewarding and unique experience, proved remarkably potent in Victoria as the city’s chamber of commerce and government agencies combined their efforts to sell BC’s capital as “a little bit of old England.” Victoria’s colonial roots played a key role in the development of the city’s image but while the English angle undeniably has some basis in reality, it also rests in part on flawed assumptions. English-themed tourism has, until recently, marginalized Victoria’s aboriginal and minority history, and the emphasis on multiculturalism over the last four decades has not prevented its English identity from being retained in the travel literature. In addition, though the tourist industry has generated a great deal of wealth for the city, this wealth has come at a price, creating problems for Victoria and its residents. For good or ill, tourist promoters in search of profit have successfully cultivated a highly appealing and lucrative English image that has made it difficult to view BC’s capital in any other light.

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Keywords

British Columbia history, tourism, Victoria, B.C.

Citation

Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 103, No. 2 (Spring 2012): 67-83.

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Citation

Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 103, No. 2 (Spring 2012): 67-83.

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