Village embracing western feel for tourism
Longview: Committee working to bring community into the tourism spotlight
Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 06:00 am
A committee seeking to boost exposure for the village of Longview is looking to capitalize on the community’s western charm.
After more than a year of meetings, the Longview Branding Committee is moving forward on work to leverage the village’s western image to attract businesses, residents and visitors.
“We are working on the details and what that entails,” said committee chairman Rick Smith. “That would include our signage coming into town, our promotions, our attitude and events. How do we incorporate that messaging in not only our promotion but in our every day life here?”
Smith said the committee surveyed more than 300 Longview residents and visitors at community events and door-to-door to learn how people perceive Longview.
The response was overwhelming, he said.
“Loud and clear, absolutely no question, the image of Longview in the minds of people is in one word – western,” Smith said. “We have this phenomenal scenic backdrop which envelops the village and there is also the history of ranching and the ranches still exist here. It’s about what we have that sets us apart.”
Smith said Longview boasts a western look with wooden storefronts, the rustic Twin Cities Hotel, popular restaurants and the Longview Jerky Shop, as well as art from artists who draw inspiration from western culture.
“We don’t have to create an image because it exists,” he said. “We just have to accelerate it and build on it. When you crest that hill coming into Longview and see that view and this little village sitting at the bottom of the hill, you can’t recreate that. The prairies, the foothills, the mountains and the cattle in the hills - everything around us supports that image.”
A branding committee was one of the key goals of the economic development committee, Smith said.
“One of the first things we established was the importance of creating and identifying a brand for Longview and what it stands for,” said Smith.
The branding committee enlisted the help of Travel Alberta and development manager Lisa Lima.
Lima said Travel Alberta offers the service for free to support communities with their branding efforts and has been meeting with the committee for almost a year to help facilitate and guide them through the process.
“I think Longview is a great little town,” she said. “They have a lot to offer. The scenery is spectacular. They have that true western hospitality and they can hang their hat on that. The western heritage is alive and well there.”
The mandate of Travel Alberta, said Lima, is to grow tourism dollars to $10 billion by 2020 in Alberta. The most recent comparison is $8.1 billion in tourism revenue in 2015, according to Stats Canada.
“Tourism being an economic driver for the province is huge for us,” she said. “Every business, every community contributes to that goal.
“We want to be there and help support them through collaboration and partnerships to ensure they’re on top of their game and able to move forward.”
Longview Coun. Christina Weir, who is also a branding committee member, sees a lot of potential for Longview as a tourism destination.
It was during Longstock, Longview’s music and arts festival, that Weir surveyed more than 50 residents and visitors in 2016 and learned how people felt about the little village.
Weir said many who were asked how they saw Longview’s image and brand replied with words like rustic, beautiful, cowboys, western, farm and ranching.
“It was pretty much overwhelming that it should be western,” she said.
When asked what they like about Longview, she said the answers included the ranch community, country feel, scenery, small community, quietness, friendliness and outdoor environment.
Weir said the committee will soon begin exploring a new logo and catch phrase/slogan.
“We want to redo the man and pump jack,” she said of the village’s existing logo. “Let’s start something fresh.”
Weir also envisions an information board to post community events and a pamphlet featuring details about what the village has to offer.
Smith said he’s looking forward to what the future holds for tourism in Longview.
“We’re very positive it’s going to pay off for us in the long run,” he said. “We’ve got more work to do to flesh it out and create strategies around that image.”