Staff Profile: Claire Macdonald Marketing & Sales Manager
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“You can’t appreciate your time in Tofino unless you spend some time doing nothing,” says our Marketing and Sales Manager, Claire Macdonald. “I want everyone to come away having slowed time down.”
With that in mind, Claire (accompanied by her canine sidekick, Tuktoyaktuk) has a lot on the go, but her appreciation of everyday moments is infectious, and just one of many qualities that make her an integral part of our team at the Wickaninnish Inn and in our community.
Born and raised on Canada’s east coast, Claire's fondest memories of her youth are centered in the beautiful and close-knit town of Torbay, Newfoundland. With plenty of family around—including 18 cousins—Claire says there was always something or someone to celebrate, meaning plenty of opportunities to get together. It was an easy five-minute pony ride uphill and across the field to get to Middle Cove Beach where, she says, summer days swimming and frying up capelin in garlic butter were enjoyed. Her stories certainly draw an enchanting picture of childhood; “It was pretty idyllic,” she says. She also attributes the foundational experiences in a small town on the Avalon Peninsula as part of the reason she sought out living in another small town across Canada.
In between her landing in Tofino almost 13 years ago, Claire lived in Victoria, studied business and worked in marketing. Following her family’s footsteps, she continued to seek out time by the ocean and often came camping in Pacific Rim National Park. Her volunteer work with the South Island Surfrider Foundation (before Tofino had its own chapter) also brought her up the coast and in touch with people and business owners in town.
Wickaninnish Inn was one of those businesses who helped support the Surfrider beach clean ups Claire was organizing—a connection that, in hindsight, almost seems planned! Serendipitously, when Claire finally decided to move to Tofino and put in her notice at the advertising agency she was working at, she got a call from the Wickaninnish Inn on her last day of work, wondering if she’d consider moving to Tofino to work for us? “I’m moving there next week!” she replied.
Fast forward 12 and a half years and Claire has made herself indispensable to the community here. Alongside her role at the Inn, she volunteers at the fire department and, starting in 2011, trained to become a Primary Care Paramedic (she works on call with the BC Ambulance Service's Tofino station). On top of this, Claire sits on the Tourism Marketing Committee for Destination BC and has recently been appointed to the board for Tourism Vancouver Island.
Claire’s genuine appreciation for hospitality along with her advocacy for sustainable tourism are an immense asset for the Inn, but also the entire industry. She values tying local communities into the management and direction of tourism efforts, highlighting the need to be a team player. “We need to make decisions that support local residents and businesses, not just financially, but culturally,” she says. “Ultimately, if we deliver a product that’s good for residents, it will be good for travellers, and travellers want that authentic experience.” And that’s why Tofino and the Wickaninnish Inn drew her in, because “it’s not a town built on economic transactions, but on real human experiences.”
So, on your next visit to Tofino, come with a sense of wonder and awe. And don’t focus on volume. “Instead of picking five activities to do in one day,” Claire says, “just do one or two and truly experience them!”