Regional District of Bulkley Nechako aim to capture the tourism market

The tourism industry contributes $28 billion to Canada's gross domestic product.

Kevin Eskelin (R) discusses the benefits of local tourism during a recent ‘Tourism Matters’ meeting hosted by the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako.

Kevin Eskelin (R) discusses the benefits of local tourism during a recent ‘Tourism Matters’ meeting hosted by the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako.

The tourism industry contributes $28 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product.

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) have recognized the economic benefit the industry has and are hoping to capture a bigger slice of the market.

The RDBN hosted a ‘Tourism Matters’ meeting at the Heritage Centre to showcase their recently launched tourism plan.

The plan aims to increase visitor numbers to the local area, increase their length of stay once they arrive and capitalize on word of mouth advertising.

Corrine Swenson, RDBN’s regional strategic development analyst explained the plan and demonstrated tourism specific links, including videos and a data bank of photos on the RDBN’s website during the meeting.

The website includes a searchable database and a local business directory as well as a downloadable tourism brochure and printable road maps for the region.

Swenson said that local businesses can sign up for the business directory directly on the RDBN website home page. Information about the directory is also sent out with business licenses and chamber memberships.

“Businesses can also update their information on the RDBN’s website and the directory can be as extensive as they want, they can add information, photos or a logo,” she added.

Swensen said the RDBN is also starting a tourism signage program looking for ways to improve on local signage.

Clint Fraser, strategic planning and marketing from Northern B.C. Tourism Region also attended the meeting to discuss tourism. He said that the brand of ‘Canada” is well respected throughout the world.

Provincially B.C. is promoted as ‘Supernatural British Columbia’ which is focussed on the landscape.

Regional branding includes the Northern B.C. insignia and promotes the area’s awe inspiring beauty.

“B.C. tourism generates $13.8 billion annually and Northern B.C. generates $1.1 billion of that,” Fraser said.

He said that excluding the United States, 30 per cent of international visitors that travel to Northern B.C. come from Germany, 14 per cent come from the Netherlands, 12 per cent come from United Kingdom, 11 per cent come from the United Kingdom and five per cent from Australia.

“Australia is an emerging market,” he added.

Of the Canadian visitors that travel to Northern B.C., 88 per cent are from B.C.

Kevin Eskelin, from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Recreation Sites and Trails was also in attendance at the meeting.

He said that through mountain pine beetle mitigation funding, dead pine stands have been cleared from a number of recreation sites in the area.

The lumber from these trees was milled and used to build over 200 new picnic tables.

“If we were to purchase these tables they would have cost $500 each … so it was like winning the lotto for us. It also created employment, allowed us to upgrade all recreation sites with new tables and removed a fire hazard,” Eskelin added.

“We want to promote B.C. as a destination for mountain biking,” he said, adding that the ministry has been working in conjunction with the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (BLMBA) since 2006 to develop the Boer Mountain bike trails.

“With the declining forest industry there is a need for economic diversification,” he said.

Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. also have a website [www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca] which promotes the local area.

There are photos of recreation sites uploaded, as well as downloadable maps and videos.

To view the local tourism information available on the RDBN’s website go to www.rdbn.bc.ca and click on the visitors information tab.