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Tourism Pemberton undertakes five-year marketing plan

Community asked to help define tourism industry's future



Tourism Pemberton took the first step towards developing a five-year strategic marketing plan. More than 45 people, a cross-section of tourism operators, industry workers and interested Pemberton Valley residents, attended the March 2 workshop: Presenting Pemberton: A Plan for Prosperity.

Tourism Pemberton presented the two-hour evening workshop in conjunction with Community Futures of Howe Sound. Facilitated by Pemberton’s FOCUS Business Intelligence strategic partner Roger Griffin, the evening was an opportunity for people to voice their opinion on how Pemberton can best take advantage of British Columbia’s four-season tourism industry.

"Our aim is to develop a self-funding marketing organization," said David Mackenzie, chair of Tourism Pemberton. "To build momentum in the tourism industry, we have to harness community energy and create a solid plan that benefits all sectors of our economic community."

While the forum and subsequent report will be funded by a $22,000 Community Futures grant, the concept is to have tourism operators combine marketing efforts to get a bigger bang for their buck. The fledgling organization tried this last summer, getting eight local businesses to purchase full-page ads in both Vancouver dailies.

"Obviously full pages in The Vancouver Sun and Province are out of the reach of most us," said MacKenzie, who is also general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge. "It’s about marketing Pemberton first. ‘Come here for all the natural outdoor recreation and stay at my hotel’, that’s the message."

He was pleased by both the turnout and level of input from the participants at Presenting Pemberton.

"We had a great cross-section. And a lot of great ideas came up, especially when the audience broke into smaller groups to discuss possibilities for increasing tourism," said MacKenzie. "It really set the tone. People were impressed. I’ve had lots of follow-up phone calls."

MacKenzie believes that a five-year marketing plan is essential to ensure that all strategies for launching Pemberton into the world marketplace are given a fair chance.

"When you’re getting the message out, whether by print, radio ads or attending trade shows, you can’t do a one-off when it comes to marketing," said the chair of the one-year-old organization. "Realistically it takes a minimum of doing something three times before you can attain a measurable result. For instance, take the tourism trade show in Seattle that happens once a year, so to judge attending the trade show’s effectiveness we’d have to attend for three consecutive years."

While the strategic marketing plan – expected to be completed in early May – will outline a course of action for a five-year period, MacKenzie is quick to point out that the plan will be a living document.

"We’ll be reviewing the plan every year and adjusting it as necessary."

The community meeting will not be a one-off, but rather the beginning of an ongoing process that will allow the community input into developing the plan. Information gathered by the consultants at this initial meeting will be posted on the new Tourism Pemberton website ( ).

The website will also give people an opportunity to submit additional ideas pertaining to developing the tourism sector in the Pemberton Valley. Ideas ranged from increasing opportunities for snowmobiling enthusiasts through increased trail grooming and creative partnering with organizations such as the Hurley Grooming Society (the society is just finishing a $20,000 privately funded feasibility study), to increasing agritourism opportunities and creating special events such as an annual soaring/gliding event.

Considering the breadth of ideas generated at the workshop, the time could be right for Pemberton. MacKenzie is extremely optimistic about the region’s potential, based on community input and industry trends.

"We may have some setbacks, little bumps, but the overall feeling is that tourism is going to grow considerably across Canada for the next four years," he said.

And Tourism Pemberton’s proposed five-year plan will be in place in time to ride that wave, to 2010 and beyond.