The Invest in Iconics Strategy is a long-term strategy to responsibly increase tourism revenue and visitation to British Columbia through dispersion, using place branding and place making (destination development) to competitively differentiate BC on the world stage. By identifying a small number of globally compelling routes and places, this strategy provides a powerful new way to package and market British Columbia to international visitors and facilitate the development of remarkable in-destination experiences.
Put simply, it’s about asking ourselves:
“What do we want to be famous for?”
There are many destinations around the world that are described as “epic journeys” or “must-see” adventures such as Patagonia, Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Switzerland’s Grand Tour, or Route 66—we want British Columbia to be on this list, and getting there is the essence of the Invest in Iconics Strategy. Working together with industry partners, stakeholders, and residents across the province, we are working to brand and then market unique routes and places that will stand out among the many destination choices travelers have around the world.
The Invest in Iconics Strategy represents the third pillar of Destination BC’s 2020-23 Corporate Strategy which focuses on increasing revenue across the province through geographic and seasonal dispersion. This strategy provides the opportunity to re-imagine our province—creating iconic, inspirational routes and places that will strengthen travel appeal in all regions of BC, in all seasons. In the short-term, we recognize the need to rebuild high season in all areas of our province. Long-term, this strategy balances the capacity needs and market-readiness of our communities—focusing on shoulder-season growth in our cities and mature destinations, while fostering all-season growth in high-potential communities and rural destinations where capacity exists.
The Invest in Iconics team is working in partnership with Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, and Regional Destination Marketing Organizations to support the ongoing recovery and growth of BC’s tourism sector. Our partnership with ITBC is of particular significance to this strategy, as Indigenous culture, language, and stories are fundamental to its success. We are working closely with ITBC on the planning and implementation of this strategy, to ensure all of our activities include, respect, and are more compelling because they are guided by Indigenous perspectives and have the support of Indigenous communities.
Destination BC’s immediate priority is to help BC’s tourism industry recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, the Invest in Iconics Strategy is critical to the future success of tourism in BC, as we rebuild demand throughout the province year-round, and grow the long-term benefits of tourism in a careful, inclusive and respectful manner.
Destination BC has shifted priorities to immediate recovery activities to drive revenue once travel resumes. The Invest in Iconics Strategy is an important part of our corporate strategy. We know that social license for tourism will be vital, and we are sensitive to the needs of communities and residents, adapting our timelines to support our industry’s needs.
We know there will be strong global competition for travellers post-pandemic—and competition from countries with big budgets will be intense. However, BC is well positioned to offer travellers what they will be looking for in a post-pandemic world: nature and wide open spaces, calm and tranquility. As a long-term, future-focused strategy, this work will play a key role in contributing to the success of BC’s tourism industry for years to come.
Beginning in Fall 2019, we commenced discovery work to validate the Iconics concepts. Some of the materials and research we have reviewed and commissioned included:
At the core of this work, are BC’s destination development plans. Our province has a huge advantage over other destinations because of the 19 destination development plans that were created with over 1,800 partners and thousands of hours of industry engagement, over the past few years.
These 19 Destination Development planning area strategies are the foundation of our work, and will guide activities to support existing and future revenue potential for all parts of the province. We are at the beginning of a long-term journey, with discovery and validation being a continual part of our Invest in Iconics process.
The Invest in Iconics Strategy is all focused on creating globally compelling brands for routes and places that will compete on the world stage. The development of these brands will go hand-in-hand with Place Making activities, to ensure that the emotional promise of our branding is delivered by on-the-ground experiences when visitors arrive and travel in BC.
Place Branding for the Invest in Iconics Strategy is about taking BC’s extraordinary places and making them more famous, more globally compelling, than they are now. The Invest In Iconics Strategy approach packages our province in a new way to allow us to strengthen our voice, collectively. To create storylines about our places that ignite the imagination and fuel a desire to experience them. Potential travellers will see our destinations with new eyes. It gives them a simpler path to purchase, to move them from dreaming to booking.
We have identified routes and places that, in total, cover the entire province. With consistent, collective investment in place branding and place making over the next few years, each has the potential to become iconic and compete on a global stage. Here is a conceptual map of where the Invest in Iconics Strategy concepts are roughly located in the province. It should be noted that these are all subject to industry engagement, and consumer research and testing. We are still in the process of validation with all of these concepts.
Through the Invest in Iconics Strategy, we will work in different ways to encourage travelers to visit more areas of the province, in more seasons. While branding is a critical component of the strategy, these iconic brands will only thrive and survive if they are supported by equally compelling on-the-ground experiences through our Place Making activities. Place Making is the process of developing long-term competitiveness. It is focused on enhancing existing experiences, and creating new experiences that elevate and deliver on the uniqueness of each Iconic Place Brand.
The Iconics will help visitors grapple with the sheer size and tremendous diversity of what we offer in this immense province. And, they will help the tourism ecosystem increase alignment with and investment in support of unifying brands. Over time, as the Iconic routes and places are developed, British Columbians across the province will reap the benefits as we all work together to build, strengthen, and promote these special places we call home.
When Place Making and Place Branding come together, we will achieve our goal of driving industry revenue growth and ensuring that visitor experiences deliver on the brand promise. Destination BC continues to work with communities across the six tourism regions to build on existing destination development strategies that pull together planning, policy, and capacity building efforts.
Even though Place Branding typically takes place first, Place Making is a critically important part over the long run. It’s the activity that really brings the destination to life as the brand intended it too.
While this work is being completed, we will work with our partners on the continued execution of other essential areas of the existing destination development plans. This includes improving transportation and ease of access, having an available and knowledgeable workforce, critical supporting infrastructure, enabling policies, and public and private investment. You can explore how our province is working together with various partners, to address impediments to tourism growth and strengthen relationships to capitalize on future tourism opportunities by clicking through to each region below.
Industry engagement is critical to the success of the Invest in Iconics Strategy. So far we have conducted numerous engagement sessions with partners and organizations to share information about the Invest in Iconics Strategy. These have included the Regional DMOs, City and Community DMOs, Travel Trade, Travel Media, Destination BC’s Tourism Marketing Committee and Board, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, and others. And we’d like to bring you along, too. There will be more engagement opportunities in the future with both industry and residents. To learn more about the Invest in Iconics Strategy or to find out how you can participate, contact us at Iconics@DestinationBC.ca. And, please check back regularly as this page will include progress updates in the future.
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