News

‘Oceanside’ won’t vanish in Parksville and Qualicum Beach

The Oceanside Tourism Association is halfway through a review of the region’s tourism strategy and branding efforts.

Executive director Blain Sepos gave Parksville council an update at their Wednesday regular meeting on their work promoting tourism in the mid-Island region between Nanoose Bay and Deep Bay.

In June Stormy Lake Consulting began surveying visitors to local tourist attractions on the reason for their visit and their perspective on the area and marketing efforts. They will also followup with the visitors for their perspective after they return home.

“We’re trying to come up with a brand that visitors can relate to, but it’s also important that the local stake holders will use it,” Sepos told The News.

With mayor Chris Burger’s prompting, he said the use of the term “Oceanside” is part of this review, but Stormy Lake have told him they rarely throw everything away and start again.

He gave the example that while “Oceanside” has picked up some support in the 12 or so years since it was introduced, less than one per cent of their target market in Victoria and the Lower Mainland identified it with Parksville and Qualicum Beach in a 2007 survey.

“Oceanside will not go away,” Sepos said, pointing out that even if they did stop using it for their destination marketing (out of the region) it would still be used locally, the way people still use “hub city” for Nanaimo.

The current process — the most extensive the OTA has undertaken — is meant to refine the overall branding, which is much more than just a logo or tag line and involves a huge amount of research, Sepos said.

As they wrap up surveying summer visitors they will turn to gathering local perception at a September 11 session. It won’t be open for public drop-in, but anyone can contact the OTA to attend (250-248-6300).

He said they don’t have a preconceived notion of what the results will be and are really just looking for the right fit. The results will be widely distributed, including workshops for how local businesses can apply the new branding strategy.

Sepos previously said 2011 was the sixth straight year that local accommodation revenue grew, reaching $21.7 million — up 2.5 per cent over 2010 and worth an estimated $109 million in tourist spending in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

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