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New Tourism B.C. program could benefit Pemberton

Facilitation program focuses on development and marketing

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Tourism B.C.’s new Community Foundations seems custom made for Tourism Pemberton. And Tourism Pemberton president David MacKenzie isn’t going to miss out on the opportunity launched by the provincial agency last week.

"Already done," said MacKenzie, when asked if the organization will be filing an Expression of Interest.

This is the third grant opportunity the organization has had since its formation earlier this year.

"The timing for forming Tourism Pemberton couldn’t have been better," said MacKenzie.

The new Community Foundations program has two tracts: one with a focus on development and another that focuses on marketing. TP will be applying to participate in both streams.

"The program is structured so you can’t really do one without the other," MacKenzie said. "And really, we’re in the development stage."

The development program is designed for communities beginning to explore tourism business options and is comprised of three phases. The initial assessment phase examines how well a community understands the value of tourism and its specific development needs. The program then takes participants into the planning phase where long-term development strategies are nailed down. The program concludes by implementing those strategies that can include such things as designing visitor service programs and developing partnerships.

"We don’t write the cheques," said Laura Plant, manager of industry development for Tourism B.C. "But we can put people in touch with agencies and organizations that do."

The marketing stream of Community Foundations aims to help communities that have already developed a multi-year tourism plan increase their visibility in the marketplace. To be eligible for this program, the community must have funds they wish to direct to co-operative marketing strategies.

Plant believes TP is well positioned to take advantage of the program. She has already had involvement with the group, helping to facilitate the fledgling organization’s one-evening Tourism Business Essentials workshop.

"Pemberton was a great group. They got their group together faster than any other community," she said.

Plant stresses that the aim of the program is to provide facilitation.

"What we want to do is be able to offer more ongoing help," she said. "In some cases the first thing we’ll look at is doing an assessment for communities. For other communities we’ll help design anywhere from two to 10 workshops to help them meet their goals."

The program, which has ongoing intake of Expressions of Interest, is expected to begin delivery of services mid-September.

By that time TP expects to hear the results on another grant it has applied for through the federal government’s department of Western Economic Diversification. That grant will enable the organization to hire a consultant to put together a marketing plan.

"It’s a lot of work setting up a destination tourism organization," he said. "We need as many channels as we can get to plug into."

TP’s president hopes that if both grants come through the programs will benefit each other through parallel operation. Although optimistic, he’s not about to consider Community Foundations assistance a slam-dunk.

"Through this program (Tourism B.C.) will only assist so many communities a year," said MacKenzie. "Hopefully we’ll be one of them."

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