What if every business, attraction and community in the Columbia Valley celebrated the uniqueness of Valley life and culture? What if we all spoke together about the special place that is the Columbia Valley?
Then we would be discovering what places like the state of Vermont and cities like Stratford, Ontario have known for a long time — the tremendous social, economic and unitive power of place-based cultural tourism.
The Columbia Cultural Tourism Association (CCTA) is dedicated to working with tour operators, artists, artisans, resorts, recreation organizations, heritage facilities, wellness providers, First Nations groups, dining establishments, and anyone else involved in Columbia Valley arts and culture to help attract visitors to the Valley and give those visitors a deeper and more enjoyable experience — one worth coming back for and telling their friends about. It’s all about taking the rich and varied lifestyle that we already have and turning it into the real driver of prosperity it could be.
The idea of the CCTA began in 2009 among a small group of local artists and business people who carried forward the vision begun in a 2008 Cultural Scan and saw the potential in harnessing the Valley’s various marketing efforts. Co-operation within a spirit of friendly competition is the recipe that has worked magic for many other communities. Now the CCTA has a Board of Directors and expressions of support from many of the Valley’s community leaders and major businesses.
The first steps are defining precisely what makes our area so unique, and introducing the CCTA to the Valley. On Thursday, May 23rd the CCTA hosted a forum for representatives of local government, business, arts, heritage, recreation, tourism, and other organizations. The forum featured Steven Thorne, Canada’s leading specialist on place-based cultural tourism, who has been retained by the CCTA to help develop a cultural tourism marketing strategy for the Columbia Valley. Mr. Thorne talked about place-based cultural tourism and his work in the coming months to help reveal the next steps needed for the Columbia Valley to become a cultural tourism destination.
In the near future, the CCTA intends to hire a co-ordinator to help bring our plans from the table to the road. When the communities, businesses, and organizations in the Valley are able to collaborate and co-ordinate behind a similar message of the Columbia Valley’s unique identity and culture, then destination tourism will become the social, economic, and cultural driver that it could be.
Columbia Cultural Tourism Assoc.