The Local Supply Co on Main Street was filled with tourism operators and organizers last Thursday to celebrate the winter season and the successful marketing campaigns held over the last couple of months.
Northern BC Tourism Association and Tourism Smithers organized the event to thank everyone, share ski and snowboard stories and talk about future projects.
Chief executive officer of Northern BC Tourism Clint Fraser said there has been plenty of national and international media coverage lately on the Bulkley Valley.
“This is one area that is extremely easy to market and promote. Tourism is very visible here,” he said, adding that tourism is a $500-million industry in northern B.C. with 3,100 operators.
The biggest marketing partnership this year was with Arc’teryx, a Canadian outdoor clothing and sporting goods company. Arc’teryx sent photographers, videographers and writers to Smithers to create content for their website and magazine.
About 600,000 watched a video they put together about a ski hut and the experience of staying in one.
The company also built huts in all of their stores and put in virtual reality machines that allowed people to get the feel of being in the Burnie Glacier Chalet in the Howson Range.
About a million people follow their social media, meaning that many people were seeing stories of skiing and boarding in Smithers and the surrounding area.
“We started talking about northern B.C. in July and only stopped at the end of January. That is a long time for us to be focused on one region, we’ve never done that before,” said Sarah Leishman of Arc’teryx.
Skeena Cat Skiing and Boarding was one of the local companies highlighted in an Arc’teryx blog and their newsletter. Founder and operator Jevon Zyp said the feedback has been incredible with thousands of people viewing the story online.
“It was really neat last year,” he said. “It was really unexpected. We just got the call and we were supposed to take them skiing. All of sudden, they are taking pictures and we had no idea what was going to happen. We got a lot of great advertisement and northern B.C. was really put on the map. There is a lot to offer up here and its great to see everyone enjoying it.”
Fraser added that there are plenty of exciting partnerships and projects on the go right now.
“The province is undertaking a new project, never been done before in the history of BC Tourism,” he said. “We are actually in the development game now, it isn’t just about marketing and promotions. We are looking at ways to make our destination competitive over the long term and that means we need to find ways to develop products and experiences in order to do that.”