May is my busiest month of the year. I take the Hell’s Gate tour, up in the Fraser Valley one day. All the museums and gardens out in UBC another.  The aquarium in Stanley Park along with the harbour tour, on a Third. In Squamish I visit both the train and mining museums then take the Sea to Sky Gondola up to enjoy the scenery. Back in Vancouver for a bit of culture I hit the Art Gallery and the Bill Reid Gallery: And this isn’t even a full list. However, I’ve saved the coolest parts till last. Now only did I get into all of these places absolutely FREE, but because I did visit them I get into them for FREE the rest of the year.

This is all thanks to a really great program called the Tourism Challenge. It coming up again this year and if you act quick you can get into it as well.

As some of you may know, my best friend and I have been volunteering at the 374 Pavilion in the Round House Community Centre for the past nine years. (We’re there pretty much every Tuesday so come by and say hi sometime) Most of the time it pretty fun as we get visitors from around the world coming by to check out the steam engine. However, another reason why we volunteer is to take part in the Tourism Challenge.

What is this Challenge you ask? I’ll throw a link to their website at the end of article. In a nutshell its a way for people within the tourism industry to check out other tourist sites so that they can provides first hand experience and word of mouth approvals to tourists who come through the Lower Mainland in the Summer. A lot of the participants are employees at various hotels and restaurants, but a fair number work at major tourist attractions, such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World, and Burnaby Village. Many of these Tourist attractions have volunteer programs and volunteers can take part.

This is why I think people with disabilities should check the Challenge out, it can be a great benefit, to people on a budget. So many interesting places now cost money to get into, but with the pass, you and a friend can get into these places for free. Offering new ways to expand your horizons’. For example, I would have never thought of going to the Bill Reid gallery on my own, but now it one of my favorite places to visit.

I believe the Tourism Challenge is also a really great incentive for people to both find and stay volunteering. For many their volunteer job is their best chance to actually finding paid work. Either through contacts they make volunteering or because of the work experience they gain.

So here’s the link:

http://www.vancouverattractions.com/rules

 

Those tourist sites that are involved in the 2016 challenge should be out soon. If you’re interested in the Tourism Challenge check out the list of participants that are in your area and give them a call about volunteering. If you’re already volunteering at a tourism site talk to your supervisor about the Challenge and see if they think it’s something that would increase their business. You never know you just might be the one who introduces a whole new benefit for everyone where you work.