Rush Adventures guide Saralyn Deslaurier looking towards the beautiful Coopers Cove backdrop. The Cove is one of many of Sooke’s unique and scenic spots.

Sooke tourism stilted by poor marketing

More effort needs to be made to market opportunities in the Sooke area

There are lots of things that rightfully put Sooke on the map: endless natural beauty, great hospitality as well as access to boutiques and services not offered anywhere on the Island.

Pretty sweet, right?

In a heartbeat, Sookies will yell “yes!” with a happy grin on their faces.

But for those who haven’t? How will they ever know that local sweetness here if Sooke continues as a mere footnote in a tourist pamphlet?

Well, that’s exactly what Jonathan Heerema, president of the Sooke Tourism Association (STA), is not only determined to answer, but to also change: by shifting Sooke into a bigger and more successful world of tourism.

“We’ve taken on other marketing opportunities such as talking about the West Coast Trail, the Pacific Marine Circle Route, showcasing more than we have in the past. We’ve got some great assets and attractions here, so let’s put Sooke at the forefront of the Pacific Northwest,” he said.

The tourism organization, which covers a tourist area from East Sooke to Port Renfrew,  just recently launched its all-new website — sooke-portrenfrew.com — in an effort to boost its online footprint and raise awareness of what this part of the Island really has to offer. It features high-resolution videos and photos of local scenery and activities, as well as visually-appealing interactive maps.

But this is just the beginning. Even though tourism initiatives currently exist in and around Sooke, their success per cost ratio hasn’t been all that great.

“We haven’t had the investments in the right markets, and that’s been a large part of the problem,” he said. “Right now, the marketing isn’t good, where they’re putting the marketing isn’t effective, and they’re going after markets that are not volume-based.”

A problem which local business owner Scot Taylor, among many others, said needs to be addressed. Taylor is behind the Stickleback restaurant, West Coast Adventure College and Rush Adventures.

“Sooke to me is still the untapped jewel of the West Coast. It’s unbelievable what we have here, and how we still haven’t marketed it properly,” he said. “We should be pulling out of Victoria at least 20 per cent of their customer base that comes in through what we would consider Tourism Victoria,” Taylor said. “I don’t think we tap into five per cent of that.”

Taylor clarified that it was his personal opinion of what Sooke should be pulling in terms of tourist activity, and not an actual, verified percentage.

He said a big part of the reason why the tourism industry is a challenge in Sooke is because there is little to no communication between local businesses and local government in terms of where tourist-focused investments need to go.

“I get upset when money is spent without asking or communicating with people who have spent a lot of money of their own like myself and others in the tourism industry here in Sooke,” he said. “That way at least they have all the questions answered, so when it comes to making a decision on how to spend that money, it’s actually worthwhile.”

It might also help letting people know Sooke is here in the first place. Taylor suggested Tourism Victoria put in a separate section of Sooke in the Tourism Victoria guide and showcase this area bit more.

“People from Sooke would feel like they’re not just being lost among Victoria people, but that they’re actually showcased a bit more.”

And the good news is Taylor isn’t the only one looking to spread the word. Heerema’s tourist marketing campaign extends its arms further on to other organizations such as Tourism Nanaimo, Tourism Tofino, even the Black Ball ferry line.

“That has been a really great avenue for Sooke to leverage other destinations much larger than we are,” Heerema said, adding that if Sooke is exposed to bigger markets and can properly service more customers in the long run, the return value of its tourism investments will be far more beneficial for the town.

news@sookenewsmirror.com

Just Posted

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

BC Ferries considers passenger only ferry between West Shore and Victoria

Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point considered as part of study into new route

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

Simon Keith undergoes second heart transplant

Former pro athlete turned transplant advocate gets another chance

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read