Communities throughout the Thompson Okanagan will share nearly a quarter million dollars in provincial matching funds for eligible tourism activities to promote local tourism – the most money given to any of B.C.'s six tourism regions in the Community Tourism Opportunities (CTO) program for 2012-13.
The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism & Innovation announced June 29 that communities across the province will receive just over $1 million in CTO co-operative funding.
TOTA Community Development Specialist Simone Carlysle-Smith notes that 23 participants in the Thompson Okanagan will receive a total of $233,700 – which is just over 22 per cent of the provincial total for 2012-13 CTO funding.
"With matching funding, this CTO funding represents nearly a half million dollars to be spent directly on local tourism projects and the marketing of communities across the region as desirable destinations for visitors," Carlysle-Smith says.
She adds that the community groups conducting CTO projects in the region over the next year include not only single communities but also groupings of communities, helping to create co-ordinated strategies for tourism in larger areas or sub-regions within the Thompson Okanagan. Under CTO, individual communities are eligible for up to $9,200 from the province and clusters of communities are eligible for up to $23,000.
"Our participating communities this year include Armstrong, Barriere, Blue River, Boundary, Clearwater/Wells Gray, Enderby, Lake Country, Lumby, Merritt, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Princeton, Similkameen Valley, Shuswap, Sun Peaks, Summerland, Valemount, Vernon, West Kelowna."
The CTO program is delivered by B.C.'s regional tourism organizations, including TOTA, which receive the funding from the provincial government.
Carlysle-Smith notes that some local projects this year will be development of photo and video Image Banks to support tourism marketing using leading-edge ideas from the Canadian Tourism Commission's 'Explorer Quotient®' (EQ) tourism marketing program. In 2011 TOTA became the first organization in B.C. to subscribe to the full EQ program, which uses research insights into people's values and travel motivations to help travel destinations develop compelling visitor experiences and marketing programs.
Besides Image Bank projects, communities in the Thompson Okanagan will use their CTO support for a variety of other projects, including installing big-screen digital TVs in local visitor centres and other tourist locations to present community tourism videos and local information, visitor guides, web marketing, promotional campaigns, and branding.
"Our region's involvement in CTO has risen greatly in recent years, and this program now provides strong support for community tourism development and marketing projects across the Thompson Okanagan," Carlysle-Smith says. Communities submitted their proposals by this year's Feb. 29 deadline, for projects that reflect their own unique needs and ideas. Communities can benefit from CTO support regardless of their current stage of tourism development.
New this year, Carlysle-Smith announces a new online resource to assist communities in the program. The new web sections provide an overview of the CTO program, graphic standards, claims information, evaluation guidelines, regional opportunities and project highlights. This section of TOTA's website is exclusively for those tourism organizations in the program, but supports TOTA's commitment to build content for the online resource centre.
For more about Tourism BC's Community Tourism Opportunities program, click HERE.
Web version of our annual guide for visitors to the region.
Marketing and information for the Travel Trade industry
Market site for a collection of iconic Okanagan experiences