Funding secured to highlight Lower Columbia tourism

“We’re working on this theme to get people to stay longer and spend more while they’re here.” ~ Deanne Steven, Tourism Rossland

Promoting tourism in the region as a whole, makes a lot of sense to Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland.

She has been leading collaborative work in the Lower Columbia with continued financial backing, most recently just over $183,000, from Community Directed Funds administered by the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society.

“We’re working on this theme to get people to stay longer and spend more while they’re here,” she told the Trail Times. “That’s kind of what our overriding theme throughout this has been.”

The direction of newly announced funding started with Destination BC facilitating a strategic planning session, where a wide-range of stakeholders, including politicians, businesses, arts councils, golf courses and others in the tourism sector got together to talk about their future. The funding will allow Tourism Rossland to extend and build on initiatives already deemed a success, like the Google Business Photos and View Virtual Project that saw 57 businesses and organizations in the Lower Columbia further develop an online presence this past summer.

“It’s going to benefit all of us, I’m totally convinced of that,” she added. “We really need to be all working together on these kinds of things to be successful.”

The overall project that starts Dec. 1. will be supported by a new hire, marketing manager Kristi Calder, who will help Tourism Rossland connect with businesses to ensure their Internet footprint is updated.

“First thing we’re going to look at is how can we assure that all of our different businesses and organizations have their best information available on the Internet,” she explained.

“Part of that will mean going to individual businesses and sitting with them and working on their Google listing, their TripAdvisor listing, their Yelp and while those things are all free, they do take time.”

The two-year grant will also see to Rossland’s current photo bank extend its reach to other areas in the Lower Columbia, which includes Trail, Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale and areas A and B.

Having high-resolution photographs showcasing all the communities will further portray what the area has to offer, according to Steven, who is looking for feedback on what images will compel people and best represent the communities.

“We do a lot of media hosting in the winter, and it makes it so much more attractive for them to come here,” she said. “We just give them a username and password (for SmugMug), and they write their article and find a picture that fits.”

Plans don’t stop there. Collaboration is the common thread between projects like a golf initiative selling the area’s fairways as a package, video content piggybacking the photo bank, and an events calendar in mind.

“We are dreaming of a central events calendar for the whole region so we can post events to market them internally and externally to make it as simple as possible for event organizers and to allow a certain degree of collaboration,” she explained.

Getting every community on one page will ensure there is no overlapping of events, but rather coordination to attract that customer looking to hit the endless stream of community craft fairs, for example.

Tourism Rossland is working behind the scenes to leverage these funds with eyes set on working with a total of $383,000 all said and done.

“We already know the system, we know how to leverage the funding, we know how to partner with all the different groups,” she said.

“It makes sense having us (contracted) to do it for the entire area, rather than having another organization that’s outside that isn’t already in the realm. “

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