Instead of bringing vacation dollars into the district, Tourism Mission has been re-directing its resources to keep local money spent at local small businesses.
One might expect work at a tourism office to hit a wall during a global pandemic. But unlike in most cities, Tourism Mission is a part of the municipal government, and has a broader mandate to support economic development and local businesses, said Clare Seeley, manager of Tourism Mission.
“We’ve moved all of our marketing efforts to supporting the local small businesses to encourage the community to really embrace those businesses that were struggling,” Seeley said.
“The tourism industry is really collaborative, and we partner and work really well together. There’s no kind of competitive edge, we are all really there to support each other.”
This marketing was done through the “I Love Mission campaign” – a partnership between the district and six other community organizations to get citizens to shop locally. Mission council set aside $35,000 for the project.
“We can make that go a really long way,” Seeley said. “As far as actual money spent, we’ve managed to keep that really light.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck B.C. and required businesses to close, Tourism Mission immediately stopped all marketing on their social media channels to “ensure we were not encouraging people to come in from out of town,” Seeley said
Those marketing efforts were then shifted to the shop local campaign. Part of the campaign was forming partnerships with local small businesses for promotion, and help distributing local cards, pins, window decals and stickers to their customers.
“We’ve given these out, free-of-charge to the businesses, and said, ‘Put these in when people are purchasing from you as that extra little thank you to show how grateful we are,'” Seeley said. “We’ve had a lot businesses coming back needing more stock.
“People are really loving it.”
The office is tracking the success of the project based off of tracking the local engagement on social media posts and speaking with local businesses, Seeley said.
Tourism Mission has re-opened its visitor’s centre and started posting on its social media channels again, while keeping the focus “hyper local.”
Seeley said that when tourism does open up again, marketing dollars are going to be kept in B.C., as the majority of Mission’s visitors come from within the province.
“We know that things are opening up [this week] or the week after, and we will be looking at advertising and marketing B.C. wide again – primary focused in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver, two huge markets that are easy to access. We are going redirect [marketing] funds from Washington and Alberta.”