The Cariboo Gold Rush is definitely a strong draw for tourism says Amy Thacker, CEO, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association.
“It’s a strong draw. Every year we get passionate visitors from all over the world. There’s so much history here that’s tied to all of British Columbia. It’s great fun.”
People will come to the region to learn and experience the history and will stop at all the mile houses and check out the old sites, plaques, and what’s still standing.
And with 2012 being the 150th anniversary of the Gold Rush Trail and Barkerville, it’s anticipated even more visitors will be passing through the region.
“Most of the events are being led by Barkerville in August. They have the national gold panning championships for their signature birthday celebration and they are working diligently on a couple of other events,” Thacker explained, adding CCCTA is working co-operatively with Barkerville to spread the word in communities along the entire route from Victoria, which is also celebrating its 150th, all the way up.
“Right now as we speak there’s a two-week NBC television campaign going on in San Francisco to connect with the Gold Rush coming out of San Francisco on the boats up to Victoria and Vancouver and coming through,” Thacker says.
“One week with our partner region to the south — Vancouver Coast and Mountains — and they’re talking about the southern half of the route and then one week where we’re promoting the north half of the route all the way into the terminus at Barkerville.”
The campaign entails 15-second teaser spots and 30-second advertisements.
“It’s actually really good timing because Tourism British Columbia is in market in California right now with the 100 BC Moments and the whole provincial campaign so it’s good timing to piggy back on some great exposure in the California market and encourage people to come north on the Gold Rush Trail this summer.”
On May 18, Thacker gave a presentation to the Cariboo Regional District board, touching on the tourism framework and how it fits into the provincial and national structure.
Al Richmond, CRD chair, was encouraged by Thacker’s promotion of partnerships within communities of the region.
“What I am encouraged about is when we worked with advertising and utilizing our forest capital as a tourism attraction,” CRD chair Al Richmond says. “It was a huge benefit for us, and in working in collaboration and looking for synergies it gives us opportunities to promote tourism in the region.”
“We know last year wasn’t a particularly good year and the numbers were down, but we weren’t down as much as they were in other regions. I think Amy sees this as a time when we can jump in and work together.”
Building partnerships will also help leverage funding to do certain programs.
While the CRD doesn’t have a specific budget for tourism, it does see its recent trail expansion program as a way to enhance tourism.
“Those projects — making trails wheelchair accessible — are happening from Bridge Lake to Wells, so you have a huge opportunity to promote the region, along with bike trails and everything else,” Richmond says.