CCTAThe vision of the Columbia Cultural Tourism Association – to foster a rich and unified Valley culture capable of serving as a strong tourism draw, built upon the foundations of Coordination, Collaboration, Cooperation and Communication – is continuing to guide and grow many projects throughout the region. The CCTA is delighted to see that industry-led cultural activities are building momentum and excitement. These projects strengthen the entire region, and provide locals and travelers opportunities to taste and feel the uniqueness of our place and its people.

Here are a few projects where members of the CCTA Board are bringing the benefits of cultural tourism and the Four C’s to the conversation.

Artwalk – This year saw a big leap in Cooperation when 9 Valley art galleries joined forces to create the Friday evening Artwalk, leading patrons through doors from the Crossroads to Pynelogs. This project is a shining example of businesses working together to create an attractive event, where they can then engage in friendly competition for the consumer dollar. The Artwalk started outgrowing its origins almost immediately. Five local restaurants contributed food and beverages for the Artwalk kickoff party on June 16, and now seven culinary establishments offer discounts to passport holders on Friday nights. With more interest coming from other cultural tourism sectors and other parts of the Valley, this event is poised to become a major success. The Artwalk received startup assistance from the Invermere-Panorama DMO, the CCTA, and the participating galleries.

Branding and Marketing Forum – When the Columbia Valley Directed Funds Committee held two Branding and Marketing Forums earlier this year, they were impressed at the massive response from the region. It was a huge demonstration of how much the Valley wants to come together behind a unified focus. The message is out that true social and economic success comes from the research, design, and development of a shared Valley brand and Collaboration among our various marketing efforts to present it to the marketplace. The momentum from these Forums continues in the Branding and Marketing Steering Committee, a wide-ranging table of representatives at which the CCTA has a seat. We are very excited to be at this table and to see like-minded people so engaged. This project is a perfect fit to our ideal of a unified regional voice. In the coming months this Committee will be working hard to build the foundations and framework of Collaboration among the many Valley tourism players.

Columbia Valley Signage Task Force – The Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Group, a working committee of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, is spearheading a project to place Valley Map signs at highly-visible spots throughout the region. These signs will help direct visitors to communities, Visitor Centres, and various amenities and attractions such as trails, museums, golf courses and picnic areas. This is a vital first step in Communicating to our visitors what the Valley has to offer. The CCTA has a representative on this working committee.

Food Corridor – Influential members of the Valley’s Culinary cultural sector have recently begun talks aimed at building a more Collaborative food corridor.

The CCTA is proud to be lending these discussions a guiding hand. A vibrant and unified Food Culture is a prime indicator of a community’s cultural health, and a major tourist draw. Strong industry-driven partnerships such as a chef’s association, and strong Communication between local food producers and non-profit organizations and local businesses, can lead to benefits such as more local food on store shelves and restaurant menus, a stronger socio-economic base for a sustainable food culture, and more Culinary events like last month’s enthusiastically-received Soiree En Blanc.

 Coordination is the Key

We salute these and other individual projects, which all further the goal of cultural tourism. The best use of collective marketing efforts, and the most socio-economic benefit for the entire Valley, will come from having Coordinator at the center of all our cultural tourism sectors.

A Coordinator will foster the research, design and development of a shared Columbia Valley brand, and help develop all the components of a functioning cultural tourism destination. A Coordinator will assist all our sectors in establishing their businesses and building connections, leading to a stronger local economy and sustaining our cherished Valley family lifestyle.

The CCTA continues to lobby and engage with our regional and provincial funding and strategic development partners to help bring our goals to fruition. We continue to advocate for a Cultural Tourism Coordinator to help maximize the benefit from these efforts and bring the tools and techniques of cultural tourism to their full potential.