By Laura Keil, Publisher / Editor
Are Valemount and McBride and Blue River friends or foes when it comes to tourism?
In my opinion, they are acquaintances that could benefit from a closer relationship.
Valemount and Blue River are in an interesting position this summer, having very few rooms or camping spots available for tourists due to the pipeline. Despite that, it appears as though many are finding a way to visit. With the lack of accommodation and Mt. Robson’s Berg Lake Trail closed, it’s the perfect year to cross-market with McBride, which is a tourism destination in its own right and has more accommodation available.
McBride has been developing its tourism economy for years and already has many winter snowmobiling visitors. Its summer tourism is less well known. This is a shame as it has much to offer: hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, kayaking, nature viewing… and some world-class viewpoints to name just a few.
But why should our region’s communities cooperate? Don’t they compete for visitors?
This view of nearby towns competing for tourism is short-sighted. People rarely just visit a single location, and focusing on just one community can limit the length of the visitor’s stay.
On Canada Day for instance, many Valemountonians went to Blue River’s Eleanor Lake during the day, and then hit the cake, fireworks and dance in Valemount at night. Despite being in harmony in terms of times, these two events were not co-marketed. Having “sample itineraries” covering more than one community is one way to link events and places across the valley.
Marketing specific destinations or activities across a region rather than a single community sets up people to be return visitors. If they feel they haven’t “tapped” everything available and enjoyed their first visit, they are likely to return to an area. Each time they return they will develop favourites and habits.
The Robson Valley is at the crossroads of two major highways and roughly equidistant between Edmonton, Prince George and Kamloops, which makes it a perfect location to meet family members partway.
Despite all these reasons, I seldom see marketing from any community marketing things outside that community. It’s an either/or mentality, rather than a yes-and.
Anyone can take up this approach. Whether you’re in the tourism industry or not, I urge you to consider itineraries that go beyond one community. Doing so will strengthen tourism for all.