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Rebranding for trail

This Gold Rush Trail planning session took place in Cottonwood, an unincorporated settlement in the North Cariboo not far from Lightning Creek, one of the more famous of the gold-bearing creeks of the Cariboo Gold Rush. Administered by the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, this tourism initiative focuses on developing and marketing the historic route from New Westminster to Barkerville. - Submitted photo
This Gold Rush Trail planning session took place in Cottonwood, an unincorporated settlement in the North Cariboo not far from Lightning Creek, one of the more famous of the gold-bearing creeks of the Cariboo Gold Rush. Administered by the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, this tourism initiative focuses on developing and marketing the historic route from New Westminster to Barkerville.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Cariboo Regional District directors have agreed to provide $2,750 in support of updated marketing for the Gold Rush Trail (GRT).

Proposed by Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA), which administers the GRT, this tourism initiative focuses on developing and marketing this historic route from New Westminster to Barkerville and highlights a number of attractions and points of interest within the CRD.

CRD chair Al Richmond says the idea behind this initiative is a little bit of rebranding to update the image of the 1850s-60s gold trail to the Cariboo to appeal to today's younger generations.

"The Gold Rush Trail tourism initiative has been there for a while ... so you want to reinforce it and get it back out there to ensure you solidify the reason you want people to come up to the Cariboo."

Richmond adds any increases in tourism in the region typically provides an economic benefit to all the communities and businesses along the way.

The original marketing initiative attempts to entice folks from New Westminster to follow the same historic trail as those seeking gold by following the Gold Rush Trail, so each community from Lillooet to Barkerville benefits if these tourists can be convinced to stop, including 100 Mile House, he explains.

"There is a need to ensure that the CCCTA can do some more marketing for the Gold Rush Trail tourism initiative."

There's a whole new tourism program underway by the province through Destination BC, along with Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), he explains.

Richmond says there is currently a $100,000, 2016-18 marketing plan for the Gold Rush Trail, with funding partners including the towns and districts all along the route, and CCCTA is now looking to further strengthen the initiative.

"The board was committed to economic development, to get some funds from NDIT to assist them in building that marketing strategy – because we believe it's time, and it's important, and it impacts all our communities."

At their March 24 regular meeting, the CRD directors agreed to staff's proposal for a Silver funding contribution of $2,750 be made from Electoral Area Administration function.

The CRD's plan is to re-claim its $2,750 expense from NDIT under the CRD's 2017 Economic Development Capacity Building funding approval.

CCCTA CEO Amy Thacker says the GRT's latest two initiatives further boost its new website with technology for keeping up with today's tourism opportunities.

Its GRT partners already benefit through online (paid) social media posts, Google AdWords, and a host of traditional marketing tactics, she explains.

"Our latest effort, the Gamification and Edutainment Initiative, uses a combination of the hottest digital marketing tools to create a 'treasure hunt' – spanning both the virtual and real worlds – which aligns perfectly with our gold rush theme."

These tools include The Gold Rush Challenge, featuring a fun online scavenger hunt for code words and prizes (both submitted by the stakeholders) intended to encourage more visitors, she says.

Thacker notes this also provides its partners more opportunities for destination marketing and brand awareness while it educates visitors with GRT history.

Its second new tool, The Gold Rush Trail Quest, is a gaming app that combines popular elements of virtual reality, geocaching, scavenger hunts, trivia and social messaging, she adds.

Thacker says this family friendly activity provides "a vital incentive for visitors to stop" at various key locations along the trail.

"At each Quest location, players use their phones to search for virtual characters and scenes from the past which have all been fully branded to the Gold Rush Trail experience."

Funding categories range from $250-5,000 for 2017-18, with extensions offered to add on for its 2016-17 partners.

GRT stakeholders interested in learning more about the initiatives and partnerships can e-mail info@gol drushtrail.ca.

While the Gold Rush Trail is administered out of the CCCTA office, the project is officially managed by the Gold Rush Trail Management Committee, of which the CCCTA is a member.

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