Beyond the River – Greater Trail Builds a New Tourism Sector

The rural communities of Greater Trail provide a dynamic downhill skiing experience in the winter months, generating revenue for the local economy. But a successful season relies on ideal weather conditions and without a regional destination marketing organization, the area has struggled to attract tourist in the off-seasons.

In 2019, Community Futures Greater Trail created an innovative approach to all-season tourism development by building on the area’s world-class rainbow trout sport fishery.

Seasoned anglers have long visited the South Kootenay region in all seasons to experience some serious sport fishing despite minimal marketing of the sector. The (WSF) website was created to broaden awareness of sportfishing opportunities on the Columbia River between Castlegar and Trail with articles on fish species, how and when to fish, fishing reports, new stories and other fishing information. By also promoted fishing guides and accommodations in Castlegar, Rossland and Trail, the site was expected to generate bookings for the 2020 season. Just a few months after it was launched, COVID-19 travel restrictions went into effect and the project was put on hold.

Three years later, with the restrictions lifted, Community Futures Trail partnered with the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society to relaunch the WSF project with a new, “Beyond the River” campaign. Beyond the River is both a tourism initiative and buy-local campaign that engages local businesses and residents to promote local sportfishing.

“The project is part of a phased tourism development project aimed at creating a destination marketing organization for the region,” says Ron Perepolkin, Community Economic Development Coordinator for Community Futures Greater Trail.

The Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) supported the relaunch as a way for Greater Trail to expand and diversify its tourism capacity. It is hoped that the collaboration taking place among residents, businesses and economic stakeholders will inspire other initiatives that support business retention and expansion efforts in the Greater Trail area. 

“Stick-It” Contest a Win for Locals and Visitors

Initially, 12 businesses from Trail, Rossland and Fruitvale participated in the buy local campaign by putting 1,300 vinyl stickers into circulation. Each sticker had a unique code word from a participating merchant. By entering the code word online, residents could win a prize donated by the merchant.

Residents who included a picture of where they placed the sticker or included an itinerary of how to spend an amazing day “Beyond the River” were entered to win additional prizes from the merchants and other donors. The merchants used their social media platforms to invite followers to visit their businesses and local media also pitched in to promote participation in the contest.

When the contest was over, a new section “Beyond the River” section was added to WSF website dedicated to things to do after a great day of fishing. Interest was strong from the beginning; unique visitors to the WSF site have increased by over 32 percent since it was launched and close to 60 businesses as well as events and activities are now showcased on the site to inspire anglers and their families to visit.

Project Boosts Community Pride and Resilience

“ is the only tourism asset that markets the entire region rather than a single community,” Perepolkin points out. “The sport fishing sector is growing, and jobs will be created when new guides are required when existing companies reach capacity. There is a renewed sense of pride and resilience as our communities discover the value of tourism to economic development.” 

The project is expected to have the greatest impact during the 2024 fishing season when anglers typically plan their next fishing vacation. In the meantime, Community Futures Greater Trail has joined the Trail and District Chamber’s steering committee to create a South Kootenay Tourism Management Plan that will market the entire South Kootenay region.

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