One of the most innovative strategies any tourism destination can adopt is thorough the creation of thematic experiences that enable visitors to fully engage in the distinctive assets that destination has to offer. That is why the concept of a ‘Trail’ – from the Malt Whiskey Trail in Scotland’s Speyside to the Taste Trail in Ontario’s Prince Edward County – is so beguiling.
Better than that, the creation of thematic experiences to support and sustain tourism makes solid entrepreneurial business sense. Devised by the province, several tourism groups, and the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild, the B.C. Ale Trail is a brilliantly conceived idea based on sound financial principles.
In fact, the B.C. Ale Trail is not a single trail but seven different beer tours across the province. Each one will wind its way through a different region, so visitors can access several craft breweries along the way. These are the seven trails:
- Victoria Ale Trail
- Nanaimo/Comox Valley Ale Trail
- Sunshine Coast Ale Trail
- Port Moody Ale Trail
- Whistler Ale Trail
- Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail
- Kootenay Rockies West Ale Trail
Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy John Yap says the province has seen the industry grow from 54 craft breweries in 2010 to 125 today. “The B.C. Ale Trail offers visitors a detailed itinerary for each region,” said Yap, “complete with maps, restaurants, lodging and of course, suggested craft beers.”
The marketing campaign, one of the largest tourism-related campaigns in the history of B.C. tourism, doesn’t come free for the craft breweries participating in the program and listed on the tours. Each brewery has to pay $500 a year to be included on one of the trails.
As the B.C. Ale Trail website explains: “Explore stouts and snow-capped peaks, brown ales and beaches, or bikes and hikes that lead to a tasting room using curated Ale Trails. Connecting with towns, breweries and nearby attractions, will yield unforgettable experiences for craft beer enthusiasts touring the province.”
‘Arrive thirsty, leave inspired’ is the campaign’s tagline. Sounds good to us.