Major stakeholders in the rugged, scenic North Thompson Valley are partnering to create a compelling new tourism brand, website and mobile digital strategy aimed at increasing the number of visitors from Europe, Australia and across Canada to this world-class destination.
The five stakeholders – spanning the beautiful North Thompson Valley and Highway 5 corridor from just north of Kamloops all the way to the Alberta border near Jasper – have joined in a pilot project with Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) to have expert resource people create brand messaging and a strong online presence that will attract more travellers to visit and stay in the area.
The project will be funded by the five stakeholder groups, with matching support from the provincial TWG logogovernment’s tourism agency, Destination BC, through its Community Tourism Opportunities program. The stakeholders are Tourism Sun Peaks, the Lower North Thompson Tourism Society, Tourism Wells Gray, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and Tourism Valemount.
Project leader Simone Carlysle-Smith, TOTA’s community development specialist, says the project flows from a tourism plan prepared for the North Thompson Valley more than a year ago. She notes that document was the first area plan within the Thompson Okanagan to align with the 10-year Thompson Okanagan Regional Tourism Strategy, which had been finalized in November 2012.
Carlysle-Smith adds that this branding and digital-strategy project is the latest in a series of community tourism pilot projects carried out in the Thompson Okanagan region in recent years which have incorporated the principles of the Regional Tourism Strategy and have included the Canadian Tourism Commission’s sophisticated research-based tourism marketing program, EQ (Explorer Quotient) – which develops marketing based on the potential visitor’s social values and travel motivations. These projects have been undertaken by TOTA and stakeholders in the Similkameen Valley, Enderby, Summerland, and Boundary Country.
“Each of these projects has had a somewhat different mix of goals, but each has incorporated the Regional Strategy and EQ,” Carlysle-Smith says. “We’re so excited to have had such a diverse range of projects. Each one helped us gain valuable experience in how to roll out the Strategy for different communities and areas, and helped our resource people build their expertise in developing powerful tourism branding and digital marketing that aligns with the Regional Strategy and EQ. We now have a robust toolkit that can help almost any type of community in our region to take their tourism branding and marketing to the next level.”
The North Thompson Valley encompasses ranchlands, hundreds of lakes, wilderness areas and soaring mountains. It contains the communities of Avola, Barriere, Birch Island, Blackpool, Blue River, Clearwater/Wells Gray, Darfield, Little Fort, Louis Creek, Sun Peaks, Valemount and Vavenby. The area includes stunning natural wonders perfect for backcountry adventure tourism.
The goal of the branding and website/digital project is to attract more visitors from overseas, primarily Europe and Australia, and from Canada, who until now have viewed the North Thompson Valley more as a travel corridor between Southern B.C. and Alberta, rather than as an area rich with its own amazing destinations that deserve an extended stay.
The project will develop a brand, a website and a digital strategy that will focus on outstanding destinations and activities that exemplify the authentic Canadian outdoors summer and winter experiences that visitors can have in the North Thompson Valley.
The website will tell the North Thompson Valley story through the profile of key destination experiences and the unique eco-system. The site will provide direct links to the main tourism website of each of the five groups sponsoring this joint marketing project.
Christopher Nicolson, president of Tourism Sun Peaks and chair of the North Thompson Valley Marketing Committee, says the five stakeholder groups in the area recently signed a memorandum of understanding to form the marketing committee and work together on initiatives like this branding and website project. “The North Thompson is a distinct part of British Columbia, defined by pillars such as Wells Gray Park, Murtle Lake and Mt. Robson,” Nicolson notes. “These are iconic to adventure seekers and place the region on a global stage with New Zealand and Patagonia.”
TOTA president and CEO Glenn Mandziuk notes this project demonstrates how five groups, which market TOTA logotheir own destinations separately, can come together and enhance their own efforts by developing an area tourism brand that is supported by the Regional Tourism Strategy and EQ marketing techniques.
“I commend everyone involved in this project because it shows the strength and value of partnerships in our industry, and because it takes us much further along the road of developing world-class best practices in how we brand and market our tourism destinations,” Mandziuk says.