Communities in the Thompson Okanagan are identifying projects in preparation for Tourism BC's Community Tourism Opportunities (CTO) program 'expression of interest' intake period for projects for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Communities are being urged to submit their EOIs by the Feb. 29 deadline.
TOTA Community Development Specialist Simone Carlysle-Smith reminds communities that CTO funds can provide up to 50 per cent of the cost of approved tourism marketing projects within the limits of the program – typically under $10,000 for individual communities and $23,000 for an alliance of communities, based on matching funds.
"Our region's involvement in CTO is rising fast – up 54 per cent over the past two years," Carlysle-Smith says. "During the current 2011-12 year, 23 Thompson Okanagan communities or consortiums are involved. Our region now receives $250,000 – which is one-quarter of the provincial budget for the CTO program, and that funding leverages $500,000 in community marketing projects."
Participating communities/consortiums this fiscal year include Armstrong, Barriere/North Thompson Valley, Blue River, Boundary, Clearwater/Wells Gray, Enderby, Gold Country, Lake Country, Lumby, Merritt, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Princeton, Shuswap, Summerland, Valemount, Vernon and West Kelowna.
Carlysle-Smith notes that communities are invited to submit CTO project proposals that reflect their own unique needs and ideas, and communities can benefit from the program regardless of their current stage of tourism development.
She adds that this year TOTA is supporting two regional initiatives:
TOTA recently became one of just five organizations in Canada to subscribe to the Canadian Tourism Commission's full Explorer Quotient® program, known as EQ. It is the result of years of work by CTC and Environics Research to go beyond simple demographics and discover the underlying travel motivations and social values of potential travellers from Canada's 10 key tourism markets – the U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, China, and the domestic market.
TOTA is beginning to include focused, experiential messaging in its strategies and marketing materials, aimed at the particular traveller types most likely to visit the Thompson Okanagan. Armed with these insights, TOTA is inviting communities to apply for CTO co-op funds to help hire local photographers who would take photos and video to support this new EQ type of tourism marketing. TOTA also has a list of potential photographers for these projects, if needed.
TOTA is also welcoming CTO applications from communities wanting to add large, high-definition RTOWN Resort-TV flat-screen monitors in local visitor centres. The locally customized TV channels, with dynamic multimedia screens, include regular Resort-TV content and also provide local vacation-guide type information to visitors – such as up-to-the-minute local weather conditions, daily events, local insider information, resort information, how to get around, and 'not-to-miss' sights.
Communities planning to submit expressions of interest by Feb. 29 are encouraged to contact Carlysle-Smith before they send their proposals in to TOTA, as one applicant per community is accepted and the majority of communities are represented in the program through individual or consortium applications. It is expected that communities will be notified of the status of their application in about May 2012, and approvals are subject to Province of BC program funding.
For additional information click HERE for Tourism BC's CTO information page.
For more information on how TOTA can work with communities, check out the new online section at:
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