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 November 21, 2001
2001 BC Escapes Program Wins Gold for Tourism BC

 Tourism British Columbia's record-breaking 2001 BC Escapes program brought home a Gold Award in the Leisure/Travel Products & Services category at the Canadian Marketing Association's RSVP Awards on Friday, November 16. "Needless to say, we're thrilled at receiving this great honour and recognition," said Grant Mackay, vice-president, Marketing & Sales. "This kind of accomplishment can only be realized through strategic partnerships, such as our successful collaboration with the Canadian Tourism Commission, the tourism industry in BC and, of course, our agency of record, Cossette Communications."

To win an RSVP Gold Award, a campaign must receive a minimum score of 80 per cent from the judges. Other organizations recognized in this category included: Rocky Mountaineer Railtours (Silver), Amex Bank of Canada (Merit) and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (Merit).

The 2001 BC Escapes Program has generated some $62 million in measurable tourism revenue. Inquiries increased 26 per cent as compared to last year, totaling 61,000. Reservations booked through the Tourism BC call centre and website also increased by 31 per cent to more than 11,000. More than 425 properties benefited from this year's program.

Created in 1998, the BC Escapes program is a $6 million direct-response marketing campaign targeting leisure visitors in selected US cities and Canadian markets. Launched in February, the 12-week campaign positioned BC as an ideal place to refresh, recharge and renew on a spring getaway. "Given the industry-wide support of this program, BC Escapes obviously meets the unique needs of BC's tourism businesses," said Mike Duggan, Tourism BC chair. "Since North America provides the majority of visitors each year, we need a high-impact campaign such as BC Escapes to encourage visitation primarily during the spring and fall seasons."

Two guidebooks filled with travel packages formed the core of the campaign. BC Escapes: Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler highlighted the urban experience, while the Adventures & Experiences Guide presented the Super, Natural beauty of the province's varied regions.

The 2001 BC Escapes program used a combination of television advertising, newspaper advertising and direct mail to reach key long-haul markets, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto as well as the short-haul markets of Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Seattle and Portland.

Television advertisements reached US national audiences through the Travel Channel; and on-line banner advertisements were featured on various travel sites and search engines, including Yahoo!, Excite and Lycos. In total, BC Escapes reached an estimated 60 million households. All of the BC Escapes travel packages were also featured on Tourism BC's website, HelloBC.com, allowing travelers to plan their itinerary and book accommodations online.

"We've built immense equity in the North American marketplace by showcasing unique BC destinations that offer obvious value for the consumer," said Rod Harris, Tourism BC president & CEO. "We see our past success with this program putting us in a solid, steady position for the longer term - especially in these uncertain times following the events of September 11th."

Tourism BC and its partners are currently in the process of creating the Spring 2002 BC Escapes program. Visitors can continue to acquire information and book packages through Tourism BC's 1-800 HELLO BC toll-free reservation and information service, or visit www.HelloBC.com

BC Escapes is led by Tourism British Columbia in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Victoria, Tourism Whistler and tourism-related businesses.