(108 MILE HOUSE) They’re breaking out the branding irons at this historic Cariboo ranch to reignite interest in the Gold Rush Trails.

To reinvigorate the marketing of the Gold Rush/Spirit Trail brand, the New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) is teaming up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA), which is taking the lead in representing a posse of five tourism associations involved in the project. The Vancouver Coast and Mountains Tourism Region, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. and the Heritage Tourism Alliance are all part of the initiative. The group announced an agreement to work together on reinvigoration heritage tourism marketing along the trails at the CCCTA’s annual general meeting held at the Hills Health Ranch on October 14.

NPTGS Co-chair Terry Raymond said the partnership is aimed at reviving the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails marketing strategy through completion of a broader, integrated tourism corridor management plan.

“What we want is to enhance heritage tourism within the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails corridor running all the way from New Westminster to Barkerville, including the Fraser Canyon and the Harrison-Lillooet and Cariboo areas,” said Raymond.

“We have included the word Spirit in the branding to ensure First Nations history is given the respect and recognition it deserves,” added Cheryl Chapman, Co-chair of NPTGS and also a CCCTA Director.

“Most of the trails used during the Fraser River, Cariboo and other gold rushes were originally First Nations trails.”

Under the agreement, NPTGS will provide one year funding for a marketing specialist position. The specialist will work out of the CCCTA offices and link with the communities towards developing a three-year plan to market the heritage tourism assets and communities along the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails corridor.

CCCTA Chief Executive Officer Amy Thacker said the new specialist will “act as a champion” for the renewed Gold Rush/Spirit Trails, which will be developed in consultation with stakeholders including local government, First Nations, corporate stakeholders and others within the corridor.

“The CCCTA is proud to act as a leader in this initiative,” said Thacker. “We believe that if we harness the creative energies of all the stakeholders, we can market our existing products more effectively and identify opportunities to create new products.”

The agreement is a big step forward in a process to get new energy behind the Gold Rush Trails brand that has been building for over a year. At the CCCTA’s 2010 AGM in Quesnel, the association partnered with NPTGS to hold a Gold Rush Trails Marketing Focus Session. The session brought together representatives from the rafting, hotel, heritage attraction and resort industries as well as Regional Destination Marketing Organizations, civic and provincial government and heritage associations.

The marketing session was a joint-initiative by the Heritage Tourism Alliance of B.C., Aboriginal Tourism B.C. and NPTGS and led to agreement among all participants that an updated marketing strategy to promote the area was needed.

Chapman says tourism associations will play a key part in revitalizing the updated brand.

“It’s important that we work with major destination marketing organizations in this project as they will be responsible for telling the world the kind of experiences they can expect in our area,” she said.

Work on hiring the new specialist and preliminary consultations will begin within weeks.

Funding for the initiative is available through a grant to NPTGS provided by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

About New Pathways To Gold Society (NPTGS)

NPTGS is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation working with communities along the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails corridor from Hope to Barkerville. The Society is dedicated to heritage tourism, First Nations reconciliation and economic development. NPTGS acknowledges the financial support of the B.C. government.

For more information, please contact:
Don Hauka, Communications/Creative Director  |  604.524.1884