Business Focus: Creston Valley tourism stays strong after summer

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Jim Jacobsen is the executive director of the Creston and District Chamber of Commerce.

It has been a good season for tourism in the valley. The Creston Valley has had some excellent media exposure thanks to stories about our wineries (one magazine dubbed the Creston Valley as an “emerging wine market”), Kootenay Lake (Sympatico travel’s top 10 lakes in Canada), the International Selkirk Loop (top 10 circle routes and top 10 motorcycle routes), and agritourism (a feature in the Toronto Sun talked about local cheese and wine), just to name a few. Of course, there have been good news stories regarding the Columbia Brewery, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area and the new Ramada Creston Hotel.

We have been working diligently with Kootenay Rockies Tourism, Hello BC, Tourism BC and the International Selkirk Loop to get some of our attractions more press coverage and it is starting to take root and grow. In fact, our visitor numbers are up 20 per cent overall compared to this time last year!

There are still opportunities to attract some of that increased traffic to your business, even this year. The glorious weather we are having is helping extend the season later into the fall. The Visitor Centre is still quite busy.

Fall is a valuable “shoulder season” for tourism, especially in rural agriculture-based communities. There are great opportunities to attract tourists to your business. As pointed out by the folks at RuralTourismMarketing.com, “Fall agritourism activities can extend a … town’s visitor season. What are people looking for in the fall? Harvest related activities, fall color, U-pick opportunities, farmer’s markets, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Any chance to get out in the countryside with the changing of the season!”

Are you maximizing your opportunities to partner with tourist attractions? If you’re not ready this year, it is not too early to start planning for next year. Check out local happenings and start thinking of ways to work with those activities. Be a tourist in your own backyard and look for opportunities to partner with local attractions or events.

Looking for some inspiration? See what Sandy Kunze did with her Bus Art Wine Tours. Or Paul Hutcheson at the Snoring Sasquatch with hotel, restaurant and concert deals. The Tivoli Theatre and the Creston Hotel partnered on a movie event earlier this summer. The Creston Valley Blossom Festival and the fall fair are excellent events to get involved with. Groups like the C.V. Cruisers, Creston Rotary Club, Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, Art Walk and the chamber of commerce organize activities that involve other groups/organizations/businesses. What can you offer to extend the various activities to keep visitors here longer (and spending more money locally)?

Part of our overall strategy for promoting the Creston Valley is promoting our enviable quality of life. An emphasis on agritourism or ecotourism or rural tourism all adds up to promoting authentic, local experiences.

Are you a localist? Want to know more? We are hosting a luncheon presentation by Barry O’Neil, CUPE BC president, on Oct. 16 from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Ramada hotel. He will be talking about their local initiative, the Ten Percent Shift — by shifting 10 per cent of your spending to local businesses and producers, the Ten Percent Shift is really just about using some of that power to make your community stronger and an even better place to live, and provide you with great products and services along the way. Register for the luncheon by calling the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce at 250-428-4342 or stop in at 121 Northwest Blvd.

Jim Jacobsen is the executive director of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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