After reading the editorial in last weeks Rocky Mountain Goat Together lets awaken the sleeping dragon, I decided to add a bit more fuel to the fire.
I truly believe that Valemount could easily capture this market with just a little creative thinking. It seems the general consensus is that we need to create something for the Asian tourist to do at night in Valemount. As a shop owner I can tell you that simply staying open at night does not attract this market to my doors (even with Asian signs in the windows). What Valemount needs is a niche. Something that no other place is offering these people. Something unique. Here are my thoughts on what that could be:
#1 – An old western town. This could easily be built on a couple of lots on 5th Avenue (a great visual as tourists drive through town). A saloon, a jail, a general store & a stable would be enough of a beginning to market this idea. More could be added at a later time as the market is secured.
#2 – The local theatre group could be employed creating and performing a play depicting the Robson Valley in the pioneer days. Because of the language barrier, there could be plays that are very visually descriptive (just like the old silent pictures).
#3 – An opportunity for a local photographer could be created offering photo ops complete with props of old time western dress etc.
#4 – Part of the package could be a campfire marshmallow roast and country western sing-a-long, complete with logs to sit on and willow roasting sticks.
#5 – A game of horse shoes would be a fun time for Asian people who have never seen a horse shoe.
#6 – Perhaps an old west theme mini golf could be added.
#7 – Possible horse drawn carriage rides through town to local shops and tourist attractions.
#8 – A great way to advertise our town is to give away free cowboy hats (which they absolutely love) with the Valemount slogan on a banner around the rim. This way everywhere they go from here, they advertise us!
#9 – Part of this could eventually include an authentic native village, totem pole and native dance performances etc. (Authenticity is the key here and the native bands would certainly need to be involved).
I see this as an opportunity to employ local people as well as market Valemount as the place to come to experience the old west. Asian people love John Wayne and the old west. The possibilities are endless and the spin off for other businesses would be enormous if done right. If we are really serious about capturing this market, we need to stand out. Stand out over Jasper, Banff and other destinations. We already have Mount Robson, which is world renown and already draws this market to our valley. Lets finish the deal.
On a side note, why do we not have a water park at our local park for the kids? It would show that we are a family friendly town and also be an activity that would invite tourists with children to stay awhile and play. I have been to other towns with water parks and watched as families spend all day enjoying this activity and go back the next day! it just makes sense to me. If you want families to stay a while have child friendly activities. A cement bowl with spouts and pipes recycling the water … such a simple thing!
We as a town need to begin to come together and secure our future. It goes without saying that we need an industry here. But we also need every tourist dollar we can get to sustain our downtown core and create more growth. Why does one concept have to be sacrificed for the other? Why can we not have both industry and tourism?
Election time is coming. I for one would like to see a balanced concept presented for our future, which includes industry as well as tourism. But I would also like to see, if we are serious about the Asian & regular tourism market, something concrete being done right now. Not just talk. Come on Valemount, lets get going and begin creating our future, one step at a time. This could be the first step. But how will we ever know if we never take it?