“Getting them to come and getting them to stay awhile – even spend some money” was the focus of a March 14 Tourism Planning Council workshop funded through BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.
The Similkameen Valley Planning Society through its Tourism Advisory Committee assembled 40 stakeholders at the Snaza’ist Discovery Centre in Hedley.
Steve Nicol of Lions Gate Consulting facilitated the day long event.
Discussion went to the distribution of a whole valley tourism charicature map of the type published with area artist , Larry Hunter.
One group went into the matter of co-operative scheduling and mutual promotion of separate events in all valley communities.
The technique called SEO or “search engine optimization” came up. SEO would make current Similkameen Tourism information top of the list whenever the valley is “Googled” anywhere.
The term “highway corridor aesthetic” came up in discussion. HCA is about communities affected by things like derelict vehicles and a hodge-podge of road signage.
On point to develop a Community Tourism Foundation in the Similkameen is The Similkameen Valley Planning Society.
SVPS is a not-for-profit organization composed of seven governing bodies from Keremeos and Princeton: Municipalities of Keremeos and Princeton, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Electoral Areas of B, G and H, and the Indian Bands of Lower Similkameen and Upper Similkameen.
Not a law-making body, SVPS offers a continuing organizational hub for cooperative efforts in the Similkameen Valley.The workshop was funded by BC Tourism. Pat Bell, MLA for Prince George-McKenzie heads The BC Ministy of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.
The ministry’s Community Tourism Foundations Program helps develop a full and long-range tourism plan with a range of tools, proven resources and advanced marketing techniques.
The program endeavors to meet the needs of communities, like the Similkameen, in various stages of tourism development.
Community Tourism Foundations have already sprung up in Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, the North and in the Interior.
The workshop in Hedley is seen as an early and major step forward for the SVPS Tourism Planning Council established this past January.
“The economic benefit of tourism dollars to the Valley is substantial”, says SVPS chairman Brad Hope.
“The longer term strategy would attract more visitors to the valley. Branding our existing attractions, lifestyle and the beauty of the valley is a key objective,” Hope said.