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Explore White Rock prepares for post-COVID tourism

Strategies focus on social, digital and other media to invite visits
Explore White Rock is preparing to encourage a post-Covid return of visitors to the city. (Aaron Hinks photo)

As COVID-19 numbers decline and vaccinations increase, a progress report to council from Angeline Chew of Explore White Rock indicates the city is ready to promote tourism once again.

“We’re now in Phase 3 of the BC Restart program for tourism,” Chew said in the online regular meeting of council on July 12.

“We are opening up to visitors again, and we’ve gotten approval for Explore White Rock to market to non-locals,” she said.

“We’ve opened up some of our campaigns and languages to say we are welcoming visitors back. We’re working on changing our programs and updating the content and also our geo-targeting is being opened up to outside of the Lower Mainland to the rest of B.C. and into Alberta – and when the borders open we’ll be looking into Washington State.”

Chew said that, to this point, social and digital media promotion around post-COVID recovery have been focused on local activities, dining and retail, with efforts to include the uptown area and other parts of White Rock as well as the beach.

A new campaign for promoting the city in off-season months during fall and winter is in the works, however, she said, including province-wide public service announcements in various media, and potential inclusion of White Rock in such regional programs as the West Coast Food Trail and the BC Ale Trail (highlighting the current four city breweries).

“We do have funding – we were able to get additional funding for Explore White Rock through a program that Destination BC offers (so) we were able to add another $16,500 to the budget,” Chew said.

A new media kit and pitching stories to BC and national media are also in the works, she said, as well as media hosting events.

In social media, Chew said her organization has been “trying to leverage our hashtags and association with Destination BC,” noting that the latter shared posts earlier this year about ‘A Day in White Rock’ and vegan and vegetarian food experiences in the city.

In response to a question from Coun. Helen Fathers, Chew noted that the difference between Explore White Rock and organizations such as the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the White Rock BIA is that it’s not membership-based, and not primarily concerned with supporting specific interests of members.

“We’re key stakeholders so we can promote anybody in White Rock that’s a business that would attract a visitor,” she said.

“We’re looking for the influx of people, the additional traffic from other communities, or other countries, to come out and visit White Rock.”

“The coming back that we will be experiencing through this year and into next year is very much going to be enhanced by the work that you do,” Mayor Darryl Walker commented.

“We want to work hand in hand with you…if there’s ways in which we can enhance this we should be looking at it. It does all of our community a benefit.”

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