The West Coast isn’t the only region with a Long Beach and local officials are concerned tourists could be having a hard time looking up the local airline online.
The West Coast’s Long Beach Airport will likely be renamed and Tofino Regional Airport is currently the frontrunner.
Based on recommendations from the Long Beach Airport Advisory Committee, the Alberni Valley Regional District is looking to boost the airport’s profile to bring new visitors to the coast. The ACRD hired a marketing consultant who came up with a list of recommendations, including changing the name.
The consultant put four names forward as recommendations to the committee: Tofino Regional Airport, Tofino/Ucluelet Regional Airport, Tofino/Wickaninnish Regional Airport and Tofino/Pacific Rim Regional Airport.
In a report submitted to the committee’s Oct. 24 meeting agenda, Airport Superintendent Mark Fortune recommended Tofino Regional Airport become the new name.
“For clarity and simplicity, I would recommend the Tofino Regional Airport as the new / old name of CYAZ,” Fortune wrote. “The name has historical significance, easy recognition and by adding the word ‘regional’ supports all of the current and future communities associated with its location.”
ACRD chair, and Tofino mayor, Josie Osborne told the Westerly News the airport’s name does not have to be changed but a new name is being proposed as part of an overall marketing strategy.
“The airport committee made a recommendation that some marketing work be done to increase the awareness amongst the traveling public of the existence of the airport so that more people will begin to use it,” she said.
“Part of that discussion includes, ‘Should the name be changed?’”
She said Transport Canada dubbed the airport Tofino Airport after the municipality it’s closest to but, overtime, it began being referred to as the Tofino-Ucluelet Airport and is now known as the Long Beach Airport.
“That does create some confusion with the Long Beach, California airport,” she said.
“If you type ‘Long Beach Airport’ in Google, you’ll see what comes up is California.”
The Westerly confirmed an internet search of Long Beach Airport comes up with a heavy wave of Californian links.
Osborne said public input would not necessarily be sought if the decision is made to change the name.
“It’s not inconceivable that that could happen. It’s just that the committee hasn’t discussed it explicitly,” she said. “I think the committee is interested in picking a name that represents us regionally and geographically as well as is conducive to marketing purposes.”
She added the airport “absolutely” has capacity for an increase in air traffic and added the recent upgrade to its lighting system will make it easier for planes to fly in during the night.
The provincial government announced it would pay for a $1.27 million upgrade to the airport’s lighting through its B.C. Air Access Program last year.
“With the new lighting upgrade, that should be coming online any day now, that’s going to really improve dusk and nighttime touchdowns as well as lowering the fog ceiling through which an airplane can successfully land,” Osborne said.
“We just need more demand. More demand and the airlines are more likely to run more flights and we can move more people through the airport.”
She said increasing the airport’s popularity could be a big boost to the number of visitors arriving on the West Coast.
“People are looking at alternative ways to get to places like Tofino and Ucluelet because of the long drive,” she said.
“When you’re doing a long-haul flight, like coming over from Europe, it’s very convenient to be able to switch terminals in Vancouver and get onto another plane and come straight out to your destination…We’re really fortunate to have the airport that we have.”
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques is opposed to Fortune’s Tofino Regional suggestion and is pushing for Pacific Rim Regional Airport to be the name. Read more in this week’s print edition of the Westerly News on newsstands Nov. 2.