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Provincial tourism accolades for Hope’s ‘First Blood 40th anniversary’ event

Despite loss the Hope, Cascades Canyons, Visitor Centre and Museum says nomination was an honour
Though Hope, Cascades Canyons, Visitor Centre and Museum didn’t win this year’s Remarkable Experience Award, representative Brian McKinney said just being nominated was a “huge honour.” From left to right: Tracy Paynter, Brian McKinney, Sarah Brown. (submitted photo)

Though Hope, Cascades & Canyons, Visitor Centre and Museum didn’t win this year’s Remarkable Experience Award, representative Brian McKinney said just being nominated was a “huge honour.”

Nominated alongside the Northern FanCon (who won), and the Barkerville Historic Town and Park, the winners were announced Thursday evening (Mar. 2), during the 2023 conference’s Awards Gala, which was hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC). The Visitor Centre was selected for the ‘First Blood 40th anniversary event’ that took place in October — a three day event where hundreds of people, both locally and around the world, came in honour of the 1982 release of the movie, First Blood, which was filmed in Hope in 1981.

As this event was the passion project and “baby” of McKinney, who was one of the co-organizers of the 40th anniversary, he represented the Visitor Centre.

“It sucks to lose but, if we’re gonna lose, we’d rather lose to the best,” said McKinney, who is part of the Visitor Services team at the Visitor Centre. “We lost to the best and that’s pretty darn cool too. And, as cliche as it sounds, just to be nominated is a huge honour.

“And I was able to reconnect with a lot of people from the longtime industry that I haven’t seen for a while.”

The finalists for the award were publicly announced by TIABC on Jan. 28. The awards were part of the annual BC Tourism Hospitality Conference. Nine categories or awards were available for those in the tourism industry (hotels, restaurants, visitor centres, attractions) to be nominated for.

For the Remarkable Experience Award, nominees were chosen based on the experiences they provided to guests and how those experiences left a lasting impression on them. Particularly, the experience provided should have inspired guests to share about it via word of mouth, post about their experience on social media, and generally talk about how this experience was positive and unique for them.

Aside from the Visitor Centre, Chilliwack’s Tourism Chilliwack was also a finalist for the TIABC’s Professional Excellence (DMO) Award. The award was won by Destination Greater Victoria.

During the gala, McKinney said he was grateful to see the impact of the Visitor Centre — and the work they do in promoting Hope — making a difference outside of the community. He said he was touched by the respect shown to Hope and his team. He was also touched by how many people congratulated the centre in being nominated and “on everything that Hope has been doing, and is doing, and has planned in terms of marketing promotion.” This recognition has also, according to McKinney, lead to groups reaching out about working together with the centre on future events. This includes ideas focusing, again, on Rambo as well as ideas that could expand more towards the Coquihalla area.

That being said, McKinney isn’t sure when the next event will happen. As planning the 40th Anniversary took a lot of work, the Visitor Centre still needs some time before thinking about how to continue bringing unique Hope experiences to visitors.

Overall, McKinney says both being nominated, and being at the Gala, has only made him prouder to be a member of Hope.

”I’m proud to live in Hope. I always have and I always will be,” he said. “And I think what we’ve got is something really, really, special in [our] community. So, we need to just keep going, and build, and expand, and grow bigger, and better economically.”

READ MORE: Hope, Cascades Canyons, Visitor Centre and Museum nominated for Remarkable Experience Award


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Kemone Moodley

About the Author: Kemone Moodley

I began working with the Hope Standard on August 2022.
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