By Andrea Arnold
Tourism Valemount Executive Director Marcie Down presented to council a summary of their activities of the past year and what they have planned for the coming year. They want Valemount to become BC’s all-season trail destination and are working to improve local amenities, facilities and attractions. They are also increasing the contribution of the tourism sector to the local economy.
Nine Valemount residents serve the community through the organization on the Board of Directors or as staff. Currently they are working in partnership with four marketing co-operatives: Mountain Biking BC Ride North, North Thompson Valley, Let’s Ride BC and BC Ale Trail, to promote and market Valemount.
Down presented some of the highlights from the 2022 year.
2022 was the first year Tourism Valemount was registered as a non-profit. Down began working as the Executive Director on August 15, 2022. She thanked the Council and Mayor for their part in making her transition smooth and making her feel welcome.
Over the past year, Tourism has reprinted the trail maps and tear away pad maps, purchased ads in Sledder Magazine and Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine, and run snow reports on the Bear 100.3FM, TSN 1260 and CISN 103.9 Country. These radio ads ran from November 2022 – March 2023 and have provided advertising opportunities for sponsors for these advertisement spots. Tourism Valemount, along with VARDA, attended the BC Bike Show in Vancouver, the Alberta Snowmobile and ATV Show in Edmonton and the Sask Snow Show in Saskatoon.
Down listed six print media outlets that are running Valemount advertisements running in for 2023: Backroad Map Books, Go Camping BC Guide 2023, Jasper Map, Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine 2023/24, Super Camping Thompson Okanagan 2023/2024 and SnowRiders 2023/23.
Tourism Valemount has also joined forces with North Thompson Valley, Mountain Bike BC, Ride North, Let’s Ride BC and BC ALE Trail to help expand exposure for the community.
She noted that the Valemount ad in GoCamping BC features the only one in the whole book featuring a winter activity.
This year Down has attended the First Northern BC RV & Outdoor Expo in PG in February,
But when you get a chance to go to PG like I did, that was a free event, the first time they have had it. The opportunities that opened up from it were amazing.”
During this event, Tourism Valemount was given five radio advertising spots from stations that were set up on site.
She has also attended the BC Tourism and Hospitalities Conference in PG at the beginning of March and attended a PG Cougars game on March 3 as a vendor. The game provided a lot of interested visitors to their kiosk. Tourism Valemount also attended the Calgary Outdoor Adventure & Bike Show in Calgary. They plan to again attend the Alberta Snowmobile and ATV Show as well as the Sask Snow Show.
Some upcoming local events that are a focus for Tourism Valemount include the Chinook Salmon Release in May, Canada Day, a golf tournament and a familiarization tour in the summer or fall. This would allow people who have never been to Valemount an opportunity to visit and tour the community and area, gathering information to share when they return home. Tourism Valemount is also planning a media tour to be held in the fall. Through this event, they will welcome six writers from the United States. This visit is being planned in collaboration with DesinationBC and Thompson Okanagan.
Tourism Valemount has been collecting statistics to help better serve visitors to the area. They have learned that out of all the activities that people most want to hear about are the hiking and walking trails, ranked number one with 665 inquiries. Interpretation and salmon came in at number two with 353.
Down said that although ATV and snowmobiling came in with 40 (ATV) and 10 (Snowmobile) inquiries, that doesn’t give a clear picture because people go directly to VARDA for that information.
Down also had a chart listing the top 10 information or direction questions that the visitor centre receives. Staff were asked “where is the bathroom” 3,783 times. Maps and directions came in second with 977 requests.
They also have a record of the length of stay of visitors, and where the visitors are from, A majority of non-Canadian visitors have come to the centre from Europe.
Using statistics gathered from the website, Down will be creating a summary page each month showing what people are looking for on the website, what parts get the most activity and where they can improve.
She also gathers information from Tourism Valemount’s social media accounts; Instagram, Facebook. Through tracking likes, follows, audience and impressions she can see which areas or communities show the most interest in Valemount. She has seen online interest from the Germany/Austria area, so she has targeted ads to reach them. Recently a writer from that area came and visited the community and will be featuring Valemount. Tourism Valemount will feature the write up when it is complete.
Using the information gathered from the website, Down can see when views spike, specifically during ad campaigns. Her goal is to reach 10,000 likes this year.
Tourism Valemount is planning a few local events that are coming up in April.
April 22 Earth Day
CITO Cash in Trash Out at Cranberry Marsh 10:30-1:00.
“Participants need to meet at the Best Western parking lot,” said Down. “I will be hosting a geocaching workshop then we will head out to pick up garbage. People need to bring their own gloves and water bottles.”
There will be bags, and refreshments provided, as well as door prizes for participants. If there is enough time and enough people, the group may branch out to clean up other areas of the community.
April 24-28 Tourism Week
Tourism Valemount will be hosting a meet and greet on April 24 at the Visitor Centre from 5:00-7:00pm. There will be speakers, music and appetizers. Down will also be doing a presentation on behalf of Tourism Valemount. An RSVP is required for the evening and can be submitted to [email protected].
Down is currently working on the new visitor guide and is excited to be connecting with local tourism operators and stakeholders.
“I am also looking forward to meeting people at the Celebration of Tourism and constantly looking into new advertising opportunities.
“I’m very passionate,” said Down. “Valemount is so beautiful and easy to promote.”