What do the Slocan, Arrow Lakes and North Kootenay Lake Valleys have in common? How can we work together to promote the region to visitors and potential new residents?
The West Kootenay Tourism Alliance (WKTA), formed in January this year, has started a conversation in our communities to explore these questions.
“We’re having an open dialogue to uncover what characteristics and values we have in common,” said Peter Welkerling, chair of the alliance. “This will form the basis of a brand for the region that we can use to attract visitors, new businesses and residents.”
Welkerling explained that the WKTA grew out of a tourism workshop held in Nakusp in January this year, attended by people from the Nakusp, New Denver, Kaslo and Revestoke areas. “It was obvious that there was an appetite in the room for collaboration,” said Welkerling.
A core group, consisting of representatives from the Chambers of Commerce in the region, have been meeting regularly ever since that initial workshop. In August, they hosted a strategic planning session with people from local businesses and organizations in the region.
“After all of this, the group decided we wanted to embark on a branding process,” said Welkerling.
Welkerling says that many people equate “branding” with a logo or slogan, but that is not what it is.
“A ‘brand’ is actually one simple, overarching promise that we can deliver on. It tells our story so we can capture the attention of people who resonate with it,” he said.
Welkerling says that once the brand has been distilled and agreed to by the regional community, the logo and other promotional materials will follow, based on the brand.
“That will be another step in the process, but for now, we are focusing on the community conversation,” said Welkerling.
Welkerling stresses that the brand will not just be for attracting tourists.
“Our goal is to attract new residents and businesses to the area as well as to increase tourism in each of our communities,” he said.
He also emphasized that WKTA feels it is very important to find “the right fit of tourism” for the region.
“We know people in this area do not want the area to become another Banff,” he said. “We want to focus on attracting the people who appreciate our values, and on what makes our region unique.”
The group has secured funding from Destination BC and the Columbia Basin Trust for the branding exercise. A Request for Proposals was issued in October, and a company called Re-influence was the successful bidder. Although the company is based in Victoria, they have roots in Nelson. One of the Reinfluence team members was involved with the branding for Nelson-Kootenay Lake Tourism.
WKTA and Re-influence have begun gathering feedback from the communities to determine what we have in common and what makes our region unique. To contact WKTA, email firstname.lastname@example.org.