A new brand of tourism: Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route

The campaign aims to welcome more visitors to the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake area

A vista shot of the Creston Valley

The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake area is a tourism hideaway, tucked between the Purcell and Selkirk mountains. The area has a mild climate, perfect for growing produce, and love for the area. — Andrew Bibby photo

It’s true what they say, we are stronger together. That seems to be the mentality behind the new tourism brand coming out of the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake area.

In October of 2017, some of the local businesses, government partners and the town of Creston areas A B and C came together to form the Creston Valley Kootenay Lake Tourism Advisory Committee. The committee put together a proposal for a tourism campaign, similar to the International Selkirk Loop and the Creston Valley & East Shore Art Walk, to be funded by Destination B.C. and Columbia Basin Trust. The development of the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route (CVKLR) campaign started in February of 2018 when the campaign received funding, and launched this past June.

Jesse Willicome, a Creston Area Community Initiatives consultant for Creston and the Regional District of Central Kootenay, and now for Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route, said that the the campaign includes communities from Yahk-Kingsgate to Riondel.

“The area has seen a growth in tourism in recent years,” Willicome said. “There has been an appetite and interest in working together more collaboratively to promote the area as a cohesive and continuous tourist destination. The surrounding areas are tied together by the common transportation network, Highway 3/3A and the waterways that flow through the valley. Visitors to the area don’t tend to distinguish between the individual communities.”

A view of Highway 3/3A

Highway 3/3A is only one of many ways that the Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake area are connected. The highway follows beside Kootenay Lake, and is the fastest way to get from Yahk-Kingsgate to Riondel. — Andrew Bibby photo

The brand’s focus is to showcase participating local businesses, organizations and attractions as part of four self-guided tours: Arts and Culture, Local Food and Wine,  Nature and Recreation, and Health and Wellness. Over the last six months, the committee worked with a series of designers and photographers, namely Claris Media out of Fernie, and two photographers, Daniel Seguin and Andrew Bibby, to develop the campaign’s brand. They also developed the assets and resources for the campaign including a new website, social media channels and a printed guide.

Bringing in an outside company to develop a brand doesn’t always work if the company doesn’t have a close relationship with the area’s grassroots. That’s where CVKLR is different. The brand came from the tourism advisory committee, and their insights gave direction to the design team.

“Having them be the direction of what we wanted the brand to look, and feel, and sound like made it feel authentic,” said Willicome. “That is a key thing for what a brand has to be. It must be authentic, and an honest representation of the product that you’re trying to sell. We are selling ourselves as down-to-earth, creative individuals, with an awareness of our surrounding environment. The businesses involved have really picked it up, because they can see themselves in the brand. It’s believable.”

Willicombe would like to see the community embrace the CVKLR brand as emblematic of a  sense of common identity.

“This identity creates a stronger sense of collaboration and working together to, firstly, see ourselves as a viable tourism destination with a focus around our four themes, and secondly, to have the confidence to go out and promote and celebrate ourselves as a destination worth visiting.

“I want our fellow communities to embrace our uniqueness and celebrate it."

For more information about the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Route brand, visit its website. Here, you can find out more about the businesses involved, the area and the four self-guided tours. 

Kootenay Lake with a ferry crossing it

The Kootenay Lake Ferries are free to ride on, and save time for travellers going from Nelson to Creston. The larger of the two operates year round, as Kootenay Lake never freezes over. — Daniel Seguin photo

Zoë Dupley

Zoë Dupley hopes to share her love of storytelling, and properly communicate the passions of those she interviews. When she isn't hiking in the Rocky Mountains, she is working on her latest sewing project or reading The Lord of the Rings. View all of Zoë Dupley’s articles

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