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Tourism Pemberton delivers five-year plan

Slow Food Cycle’s success supports report’s central themes



By Cindy Filipenko

The strategic marketing plan commissioned by Tourism Pemberton has been delivered, now it needs to be implemented.

According to Tourism Pemberton President David MacKenzie, the cost of putting in place recommendations for the first year of the five-year plan will be $60,000.

MacKenzie points out that while $60,000 may seem like a lot for a small community, investing in tourism promotion has been proven to have a significant economic impact on communities. He also notes that some of the marketing plan’s suggestions, such as improving the visitor information centre and supporting signage, have already been implemented.

The 117-page plan produced by FOCUS, the business strategy arm of Custom Fit Communications, outlines a comprehensive marketing strategy for the Pemberton Valley capitalizing on the area’s natural resources. The report suggests raising the community’s destination travel appeal by combining traditional marketing strategies, such as advertising travel trade journals, with guerilla marketing techniques, increased PR efforts and a substantial web presence.

MacKenzie said that while the plan is comprehensive and well developed, there were few surprises in the report and that it confirmed what people engaged in tourism have long suspected. The most significant finding is the importance of cultivating the Lower Mainland market while maintaining Pemberton’s character.

“You cam see how this can work in great events we have like the Slow Food Cycle,” said MacKenzie.

The 2 nd Annual Slow Food Cycle attracted more than a 1,000 people who peddled up Pemberton Meadows Road sampling the agricultural area’s offerings. This was a dramatic increase from the event’s inaugural year, which attracted 450 people. Organizer Anna Helmer reported that the event attracted approximately 300 Vancouverites. City dwellers constituted the largest demographic outside of locals, who made up 35 per cent of the participants.

With no paid advertising taken for the event, people living outside of the region were made aware through newspaper articles, word of mouth and the farmers’ market network.

This year the organizers did not apply for any money to offset the costs, electing to pay off the bills through hosting a fundraising dinner at Helmer’s Organic Farm.

While Slow Food Cycle doesn’t solicit donations, donations came this year from Capers, who helped with food for the dinner, and the Whistler Enviro Fund, which provided all the signage for the event.

Helmer said she will be involved next year and doesn’t see that the Slow Food Cycle will change its format very much.

“It’s a good event. We need to keep the focus on local. It was designed to show local people what’s happening up the valley,” she emphasized.

Employing the Slow Food Cycle's advertising strategy in its entirety may not be practical for every event or organization, but the event clearly demonstrates how to apply guerilla marketing techniques and create a tourist draw that showcases Pemberton’s assets.

The strategic marketing plan is essentially a blueprint for Tourism Pemberton to follow to ensure it gets the biggest bang for its buck. MacKenize sees the marketing plan as a living document. As the plan unrolls, it will continually be assessed and revised to meet the community’s needs.

Tourism Pemberton anticipates that at least one-third of the budget for the strategy’s first year will come from provincial government sources.