Brian Henry was honoured at the Tourism Victoria AGM on April 28th with the Life Member Award

Brian Henry, the owner of Ocean River as I am sure we all know, has been a pioneer in the adventure tourism industry in Victoria for over 30 years – not to mention his huge influence on the sport of kayaking. After Friday’s award ceremony we wanted to sit down with Brian and ask him a few questions to learn how one becomes such an influence in the tourism industry.

Brian Henry photo by Lee Ann Stack

1. What has been the biggest change in the tourism sector since you started the adventure side of Ocean River?
Tourism used to be tea at the Empress, the Wax Museum and Buchard Gardens.   That worked back then but adventure tourism is now an important part of the tourism fabric and becoming more important.  Along with the growth in adventure tours, our harbour has been cleaned up, recognized as an asset and is being used for recreation.
2. What is it that you love about the tourism industry?
Tourism is an export product that people come here to experience.  For the most part, it is clean, healthy and inspires those who come.
I love sharing all of the great things we have here in Victoria and on Vancouver Island, we are all so lucky to get to live here.
3. Why do you think there has been a recent shift of interest towards experiential and adventure travel?
People wish to take away memories, worthy of their time.  To be a participant rather than an observer is more important to the modern day traveler.  It gives a more fulfilling experience to the traveler.
Well dressed Kayaker
4. Did you see this award coming?
No! I am extremely honoured to be in the company of previous winners.   I’m just a guy who does his part to run our small business.   We love to collaborate with others and thus, it made sense for me get onto some boards to contribute in a number of ways.  We are the benefactors of a healthy industry because we contribute.
5. What advice do you have for anyone just starting out in the tourism industry?
Get in there, try to get on a committee or board, get to know others in the industry and you will meet some of the finest people on the planet.
Go for it and do audacious things – they stand out.
6. What is the main thing that you think makes a tour company successful?
We care, we are consistent, we make it fun, and we all love sharing what we love.
As the business owner, I need to support my staff to be able to do all of these things.  The customer knows when things are genuine.
Brian Henry photo by Dan Takahashi
We are very proud of Brian here at Ocean River and thankful to him that we get to come to work each day, in this beautiful city, where we can share a sport and an adventure with anyone who chooses to visit us in one of our three locations.
Want to learn more about the history of Ocean River? Check it out here.

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