The city wants to encourage more people to learn about and experience the town centre. (files)

OUTLOOK: Maple Ridge tourism strategy making progress

One new initiative is an ‘Ale Trail.’

In December 2017, the City of Maple Ridge released its five-year tourism strategy.

The document is founded on an engagement process with local and regional tourism operators, arts and culture organizations and local government in order to both secure the benefit of their knowledge and experience and to build support and ownership for plan implementation.

Lino Siracusa, director of Economic Development and Civic Properties for the City of Maple Ridge, is pleased with the progress in addressing many of the strategies identified in the document.

“We wanted to ensure that these ideas would be directed not only at the tourists but would also spur an interest from the residents of our own community as well. We have created a promotional video that gets rave reviews every time it’s aired and we have been working with events promoters to advertise any local events taking place in the community on social media or other campaigns to get the word out to our residents. We have been advertising the events on the Kwantlen billboard on Lougheed Hwy. and every two weeks we promote a different event in town,” Siracusa said.

“We need to build our tourism on the strengths of our community. We have this tremendous outdoor environment and we are all about nature. We have plenty of access to many amenities but we need to encourage the people coming out to experience them to learn about and experience our Town Centre.

“Not many areas have what we have and we are looking at strategies to make the town centre more appealing, more walkable and consequently more enticing for both visitors and residents alike,” he added.

The recommended strategies that enhance experiences and amenities increase the livability of the community for residents, making the destination more enjoyable for visitors.

In the strategy:

• a vision for tourism in Maple Ridge;

• tourism objectives;

• guiding principles for tourism services delivery;

• recommended governance model and structure;

• mission of the proposed tourism advisory committee;

• recommended funding model;

• Maple Ridge’s unique selling proposition and target markets;

During the Tourism Task Force meeting, participants reviewed and agreed on many elements of a vision for tourism in Maple Ridge.

These key vision elements:

• year-round visitor economy contributing to the community’s economic health and quality of life for residents;

• tourism that is vibrant and sustainable – a vital element of the local economy that is respectful of environmental and social values;

• tourism is community-driven resulting in strong resident support for the industry and recognition of the value of tourism;

• tourism opportunities that provide value to both residents and visitors recognizing that a great place to visit, is also often a great place to live.

“We have some very unique agri-tourism opportunities here that don’t exist elsewhere. We are putting together more amenities around the farming community and bringing in more tours for that sector,” Siracusa said.

“We have been successful in accessing some of the funding from Destination B.C. by providing them with the collateral material we are able to be included in their promotions and this partnership helps bolster our limited budget.

“We have been listening to people to get new ideas and offer what they want. One new initiative is an ‘Ale Trail.’ This is a great opportunity to encourage people to come out and sample the fine beer that is brewed locally and at the same time, enjoy the itinerary we have set up that will showcase some of our nature and recreation spots.

“This will complement our Circle Farm Tour and the Scenic 7 tour, which highlights the features of Highway 7. All of these initiatives encourage the local business community to get involved as well and show the visitors we have things that other communities don’t,” he said.

“We are also listening to the people who are passionate about cycling and we know we recognize that we have safe and divided cycle paths, easy trails to ride and we also have some scenic off-road mountain bike areas so we plan to look at meeting all the needs and making this a destination for recreational and racing bikes.

“As we have followed the Tourism Strategy, this year has been all about creating a ‘Maple Ridge identity.’ We continue to build on the strategies and we are excited about the opportunities ahead.”

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