The Valley has a new Tourism Coordinator and a familiar face in Jesse Willicome.
Hired by the Creston Valley Tourism Society (CVTS), Willicome carries the momentum of his projects he had already started while working through Factor 5 Consulting. He also worked directly with the Town of Creston and other local organizations to consolidate resources, making Creston more tourist-friendly.
“It has been an interesting year,” said Willicome. “The Society had much more ambitious plans in 2020 to hit the ground running. Of course, that wasn’t possible. So with support from the Creston Valley Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership, we kept a more low profile. Really planning long term, and to promote having residents support local businesses.”
Willicome added that he and the CVTS continue to work within the parameters of the local Health Authority. He said during this downtime there is still a lot of work to be done, gathering the materials, framework and partnerships for when travel opens up again.
“In response to the pandemic and knowing what could be done, CVTS in support from the Town of Creston and the [Regional District of Central Kootenay], and in partnership with Creston Community Forest, put together a hiking map. It was a really great resource for the situation we found ourselves in, we still have lots of those available and will be distributing them.”
Creston Hotel co-owner and Chair of the Board of Directors for CVTS, Mimika Coleman, said Willicome was chosen over the other candidates based on his expertise and genuine love of the area.
“Jesse’s been very helpful because he’s already worked in the field for economic development,” said Coleman. “He’s aware, working with different organizations. So he’s really helped us as Directors bringing us up to speed on the tourism and economic development realm before we got together, so that really gave us a jump start.”
Willicome’s role is also to provide dedicated focus towards coordinating events and initiatives during the busy season.
“With any organization there is exhaustion,” Coleman added. “All of the Directors are of course volunteers and they have their own businesses, and they are very busy during the tourism season. It is great to have a hired employee who will get things done and hold your feet to the fire and say ‘excuse me Miss.Chair, we have a deadline coming up,’ and I’ll get that ready.”
Coleman too looks at what can be done in the tourism sector while restrictions are still in place.
“One of our missions is to get more photography so that we can utilize social media more. We want to keep Creston at the top of their minds, letting everyone know what we have to offer and keeping that information flowing and out there so we don’t get forgotten about.”
Created in 2019, CVTS was formally established following the introduction of the 2% hotel levy on overnight stays by visitors to the Creston area. According to CVTS, its mandate is to use these funds to promote visitation to the area, to support visitors in having a remarkable experience while here, and to provide local tourism industry leadership. Through this, the society’s goal is to increase “heads in beds” and catalyze sustainable tourism industry growth in the Creston Valley.