Smithers was among 18 northern communities given a chance to shine at a tourism showcase at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George last month.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and Tourism Smithers marketing director Gladys Atrill spent three days on
location at the games promoting their town at the Northern B.C. Tourism Plaza.
Surrounded by a cedar facade provided by Kispiox Barn Co., the plaza attracted a crowd of 13,000 in the first 10 days of the Games.
Each community had three days at the plaza before another community took their place.
Mayor Taylor Bachrach said the Games had provided an opportunity to showcase the region to other British Columbians, something he said was just as important as exposing it to visitors from further afield.
He also spread the word about what the Smithers townsite has to offer, beyond its well-known outdoor attractions.
“As much as we have great skiing and fishing and all of those outdoors things, we also have this great Main Street and even if you don’t do outdoor activities our downtown and our Main Street is worth checking out,” said Bachrach.
He and Atrill handed out 1,200 pins at the Games, where pin-collecting is a popular activity.
Atrill, who is also a Town of Smithers councillor, said showcasing Smithers to other northern residents was also a priority for Tourism Smithers.
She handed out Hudson Bay Mountain ski passes to people who were planning to visit the Bulkley Valley in the near future.
Atrill believes Smithers received significant exposure through the plaza.
“You never know what the dollar value is, but at the end of the day the price of one glossy ad is quite a bit of money and the price of [Tourism Smithers] being at the Games was quite a bit less than that,” said Atrill.
Northern B.C. Tourism community engagement manager Blaine Estby said Prince George was the first host city to put such a large emphasis on tourism.
He said NBCT had taken a chance to do something different and it had paid off.
“Every community we’ve talked to has been over the moon about the response that they’ve got,” said Estby.
“We just wanted to do something really amazing for everybody and it has worked out and I’m sad that it’s over in a couple of days.”