Regional Rail Trails Get Major Tourism Boost

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) in association with Destination BC (DBC), Recreation Sites and Trails BC, Trails BC, Trans Canada Trail Society, British Columbia Cycling Coalition and Cyclo Touring BC Program, is pleased to announce that a formal Thompson Okanagan Regional Rail Trails Tourism Strategy is about to get underway and that a team of leading professionals have been appointed.

The centerpiece of the rail trails tourism strategy will be the Kettle Valley / Columbia and Western Railway rail trails routes that form the basis of the Trans Canada Trail through the region. The rail trail products that are available throughout the Thompson Okanagan region have the potential capacity to elevate the tourism experience in both large and small communities situated along the trails and provide operators in all of those communities the opportunity to realize positive and sustainable revenue increases.

The Rail Trails Tourism Strategy that will involve extensive industry and community consultation is scheduled to be complete by late fall 2015. The strategy will ultimately assist the regional rail trail network to be internationally export ready tourism product bookable by consumers from around the world and further the goals presented in the 10-year Regional Tourism Strategy entitled Embracing Our Potential

This destination development process is being led by TOTA with support from DBC. TOTA Experiences Development Specialist Ellen Walker-Matthews will be coordinating a team of leading consultants led by Lions Gate Consulting principal Steve Nicol. Joining Steve will be Jennifer Houiellebecq of Tourism Planning Group, Blair Baldwin of Pinnacle Consulting, and Roger Handling of Terra Firma Digital Arts.


"The team at TOTA continues to work with the stakeholders in developing world-class tourism activities, products, and facilities. Outdoor recreation, soft adventure and specifically the development of the regional "Rail Trails" product offer an opportunity for tourism expansion in non-peak periods and provide tourism stakeholders and communities of various sizes the opportunity to participate and build their businesses along the rail trail lines."
Michael J Ballingall, Chair of TOTA

"We’re very excited to be working with TOTA on this regional initiative and the potential for elevating the Trans Canada Trail experience in the Thompson Okanagan region to world class status."
Steve Nicol, Principal Lions Gate Consulting

"A Tourism Strategy of this nature is critical to the success of developing the Rail Trails of our region into a viable tourism product offering. The team that has been assembled to lead this process has extensive background in developing comprehensive strategies that produce results."
Glenn Mandziuk, President & CEO of TOTA

About the Consulting Team
Lions Gate Consulting is a Vancouver-based firm with 30 years’ experience in economics and economic development consulting. The Principal, Steve Nicol, has conducted more than 80 tourism consulting assignments covering economic studies, business planning and feasibility analysis, community-based tourism development planning and marketing studies and plans. For the last 10 years he has been a facilitator for the Destination BC Community Tourism Foundations program. Joining Steve will be Jennifer Houiellebecq of Tourism Planning Group, Roger Handling of Terra Firma Digital Arts and Blair Baldwin of Pinnacle Consulting. The team has prepared numerous tourism development plans for communities across Canada and brings specializations in destination, product, market, brand and industry development, as well as considerable experience in stakeholder consultation and project management.

About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a non-profit society governed by an elected Board of Directors who represent business and community tourism interests throughout the region. It is an industry-led organization that represents and supports all business and community tourism interests in the region, while also helping to implement provincial tourism policies