Midnight Musings from Our CEO
The woman was introduced as a Trail Blazer and over the course of the ensuing 30 minutes she spoke about how her organization, a Regional Tourism Organization similar to TOTA, had managed to bring together 3 councils, several levels of government, a number of Indigenous communities as well as a variety of special interest groups who over a 2 year period upgraded a previously neglected trail system in their region and created something that is now Internationally Marketable. She spoke of how they were able to take a trail system that had over 20 trails, six with international significance, all of varying quality, most of them state and government owned and create a cycling and walking tourism product that today is generating significant revenues for their regional stakeholders and continues to grow.
At the outset a few of their many issues included a lack of priority for trail investment, competing groups applying for grants and funding, an inability to track /measure user-ship and resulting revenues, lack of coordination in, planning, developing, marketing and the list went on.
She spoke at length about the “ah ha moment ” and the recognition by all parties involved that the only way to get this integral trail system upgraded and market ready was to work as a cohesive single unit, leave egos at the door and move forward collectively and cooperatively – words that repeated themselves often over the course of her presentation. They chose to share a vision, create a hiking and cycling tourism strategy that included a marketing strategy, developed guidelines for trail planning, design and management with practical action plans and produced a business case for public and private investment.
Through their process they identified and implemented economical methods for trail construction and maintenance; designed a long term funding model; installed tracking equipment to accurately measure usage and created a signage network that provided users with a range of information including safety and security, way-finding, local and historical information as well as visitor services.
Most importantly they worked collectively to ensure the trail was properly marketed noting that government agencies, by their own admission, had in the past been known to develop product and walk away, whereas this new coalition agreed to “Develop what you Promote and Promote what you Develop”.
Had there been road blocks and challenges along the way? Absolutely! But key to their success was determination and a willingness by everyone involved not to back down in the face of any obstacles and to believe that the end result would be worth the challenge and would prove itself out over time. They were committed, passionate and when were faced with negativity they only dug their heals in deeper and became even more committed and passionate. The outcomes have been significant and they have been recognized as a flagship in trail development within the region and the country.
Do any of these issues and challenges sound familiar? They certainly did for me. This wasn’t a local, regional or North American speaker but rather a presenter at a regional conference in Australia last week. This group understands the economic importance and international significance of world class trails and because of that they have not let anything stand in their way in the development of this tourism products.
So the questions is…are we brave enough, passionate enough, committed enough, smart enough to follow their lead? The time to move forward with our trail system is now but the window will not be open forever and the competition in this market is growing and moving forward quickly.
Collective, collaborative, cooperative, committed….Develop what you Promote; Promote what you Develop…..are you in?
A Few Highlights From This Weeks News Centre
It is time to get ready to welcome the world our country celebrates its 150 birthday this July and what better time for Lonely Planet to recognize Canada as the #1 place to visit in 2017 (read more); hats off to Monte Creek Ranch Winery just outside of Kamloops where they have enjoyed such a tremendous first year they are moving forward with their phase 2 expansion plans (read more).
Read all of this weeks New Centre stories at news.totabc.org
If you haven’t done so already it is time to register for this years TOTA AGM and Summit which is less than a month away. November 23rd and 24th join us in the new conference centre at Predator Ridge. For more information or to register to go (read more)
We hope you keep following and contributing on TOTA’s Facebook and twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region and be sure to use the #route97 and #explorebc when posting your tourism shots and stories from around the region.