Mountain Bike tourism in Williams Lake and the Cariboo Region is a major contributor to the economy. It is also one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the Cariboo, says the city in a press release.
Since 2010, the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium has been working in collaboration with the City of Williams Lake to develop and promote mountain bike tourism. Infrastructure such as the Boitanio bike park, kiosks around town and highway signage, was implemented early on and helped to set a structure for visiting riders.
With a world class trail network and infrastructure in place to support it, the Consortium and City worked together to advertise the region using the ridethecariboo.ca website as an information portal.
With matching funds from Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Community Tourism Opportunities program of the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation, the City invested in an intensive Pinkbike.com advertising strategy. Pinkbike.com is the largest mountain bike website in the world and receives over 1.5 million visits per month.
A series of ads that focus on regional events and the general Cariboo riding experience was initiated in April of 2012. With additional funding from Northern Development, a strategic billboard was placed on the Sea-to-Sky corridor to drive traffic to the website.
These tactics, in combination with general visitor feedback and word of mouth marketing through events and other activities, have generated a substantial increase in website traffic. Compared to 2011, the 2012 ridethecariboo.ca activity has increased by 207 per cent to more than 7,800 visits at mid-point in the 2012 season. The number of page views has risen to 34,145 with a constant 30 to 50 per cent new visitor trend.
This indicates the ridethecariboo.ca web initiative is proving to be one of the most successful of the Consortium strategies to increase visitors to the area.
A current economic assessment completed by the Consortium shows that since 2010 there has been an average 30 per cent increase in trail system usage. The 2012 estimates for direct mountain bike visitor spending are estimated at $294,538 annually. Total indirect mountain bike visitor spending impact is estimated at $427,081 annually. The 2012 data indicates a 21 per cent increase in mountain bike visitor spending since 2010.
Moving into 2013, the City and Consortium will continue to work together to promote mountain biking in Williams Lake and the Cariboo with a second Pinkbike.com campaign, by renewing the billboard on the sea-to-sky highway and by attending the Outdoor Adventure Show in Vancouver where they will speak directly with travel minded mountain bikers.
Website analytics indicate that this has been a great investment, and the City and Consortium look forward to seeing advertising lead to increased web traffic and visitor spending in future years.
“This economic assessment shows that our partnership is working, increasing trail usage and the number of visitors to the community,” says Mayor Kerry Cook. “Mountain Bike tourism has the great potential to attract even more visitors and economic activity as we move forward.”
“We are very pleased about our partnership with the City of Williams Lake. City staff and Council have shown great leadership in the mountain bike sector, and we will be looking to other Cities and the Regional District in search of similar partnerships,” says Justin Calof, Executive Director of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium.
“As we all attempt to diversify the regional economy in the wake of the mountain pine beetle, mountain biking will be an increasingly important sector to attract new visitors and retain workers.”