Rossland’s mayor says a report on developing tourism along the Highway 3 corridor will help bring new visitors to the region.
”I believe that our area, the Highway 3 corridor, has a lot of untapped potential,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “By implementing this strategy, we can improve the lives of our residents and create resilience for our region.”
Moore, the chair of the tourism and branding sub-committee of the Highway 3 Mayors and Chairs Coalition, was commenting on a ‘Destination Development Strategy” recently released by Destination BC.
Highway 3 winds from Hope to the Alberta border just north of the 49th parallel, passing through dozens of communities along the way. The Coalition was formed years ago to promote development, tourism, and address common concerns of the area’s leadership.
“This strategy has done a good job identifying both assets and gaps,” says Moore. “We need to promote the assets and address the gaps so travellers want to visit, again and again.”
The Development Strategy says over the years, traffic and tourism have increased along the highway to the big-name summer destinations like Osoyoos and Princeton and winter ones like Rossland and Fernie and Manning Park. However, there’s not enough year-round, fresh traffic regularly from other locations to make many businesses viable year-round.
“As a result, all communities and destinations along the corridor are not able to fully benefit from its tourism potential,” the report says. “Communities along Highway 3 are primarily reliant on the B.C. market, the Alberta market and local residents. There are a significant number of lower generating same-day trips.
”Improving the number of experiences that motivate overnight stays can ensure greater benefits from the visitor economy along the entire corridor.”
The report says Highway 3 corridor’s distinct selling proposition is “its incredible scenic beauty, easy access outdoor adventures, quirky small towns, rejuvenating water, quality snowfall, sense of nostalgia (family vacation memories)”, among others.
It says groups like hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, skiers/snowboarders, cyclists, food and history lovers can all find interests along the highway.
The report recommends developing the tourism marketing for the area around four main themes: Outdoor Recreation; Arts, Culture and Festivals; Food, Drink and Agri-tourism; and Stories and Legends — cultural and historical offerings that can be shared with tourists.
The 80-page report identifies dozens of specific objectives to work towards over the next decade to develop the tourism industry along the corridor. The ideas range from improving road safety in winter to helping First Nations communities develop tourism, creating a corridor-long food festival, to small things like better recycling programs.
Moore encourages business leaders to read the report and look at the target markets that an help identify opportunities for expansion and marketing.
“We want to get [the report] out to all stakeholders and let the natural forces of creative entrepreneurialism flourish!” she says. “Destination B.C. is going to help transition the subcommittee for tourism into the “Highway 3 Tourism Alliance” which will include a broad cross section of stakeholders including tourism providers, Chambers of Commerce, local government, Ministry of Transport and Destination B.C. representatives, and others.”
She says she hopes there’ll be more support for the projects identified in the report, “but that remains to be seen”.