Marketed properly, the KVR Trail could be a boon for communities situated along the trail.
That, according to Glenn Mandziuk, CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.
Mandziuk has spent the past several weeks getting local government feedback on a tourism strategy for the KVR Trail.
“We want to make sure communities along the corridor, fully endorse the concept of working on a number of initiatives identified within the strategy, to make it an international, market-ready tourist attraction for the region,” said Mandziuk.
The KVR Trail stretches from Castlegar to Hope. The Myra Canyon Trestles are its crown jewel.
He said a regional tourism strategy, completed in 2012, identified the rail trails of the region as a tremendous opportunity to attract new visitation to the region.
The plan includes everything from a sophisticated online presence to ways of developing, and attracting new investment.
“New bed and breakfasts may occur along the trail. It might be businesses who rent biking or hiking equipment. It could be companies that carry your bags for you along the trail.
“That’s what we are looking for. We will be working to attract new investment, identify the gaps and improve the marketing of that trail.”
He said there are world-renowned trails in other parts of the world where communities and businesses exist only because a trail exists.
“There are communities along the trail that are struggling economically. This trail could provide a new avenue of economic prosperity. That’s basically the focus,” said Mandziuk.
Right now, he said only the hard core international hiker would be able to find information on the KVR Trail online.
He added 10 businesses who garner revenues from the trail have taken part in a pilot project, the Remarkable Experiences Program, with excellent results.
The trail is also part of the Trans Canada Trail, which will officially open July 1 of next year.
It’s a rare situation, said Mandziuk, when you have a market-ready asset on the ground. Where you don’t have to spend millions and millions to get it rolling.
The plan, said Mandziuk, has an end date of 2022. While it’s too early to tell, he said some budget items in the plan have a price tag of $500,000 to $1 million.