Tourism: where less is more …

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Having just returned from travel to the BC coast on family matters, I realize that we have a very tough slog to make Pontiac a booming tourist destination. Why? Because we’re advertising all the pluses, charms and pleasures which can be found right across rural Canada. Our forests, farms, lakes and rivers, craft breweries, niche farms — these are found almost everywhere in Canada.

Pontiac’s tourism officials and entrepreneurs have been ingenious in their advertising, but aren’t we delivering the same message that every other region in Canada is promoting?

Destination Pontiac lists all that the Pontiac can offer, but, is it truly special? Why use a message which barely distinguishes us from the next place or region?

There is one message we have a monopoly on, which is pretty obvious to any traveller: Pontiac’s lack of people. We don’t have millions bumping and jostling, lined at stop lights and on construction single-lanes. And phenomenally so: most vacation traffic scenes across Canada today could have been set in dystopian movies from our youth. But not amid the Pontiac’s lakes and fields.

Line ups, twenty-four hour traffic congestion, crowded sidewalks and beaches, even crowded fishing piers … that’s a vacation, really? To distinguish the Pontiac from every other region, we have to reach our audience of vacationers and touch their strongest ambitions, even their longings. They want peace, a little quiet and calm, excitement certainly, a friendly word — fun without more line-ups. They want to be treated as individuals, respectfully, not as cattle.

It’s a cliche to say that Canadians are frustrated and even angry about the over-crowding of modern life — everywhere. (The truck convoy was an example.) “Bumping elbows” is the polite term.

Couldn’t we present all this in a positive light by telling our tourism audience exactly that “There’s no one here!”?

No bumping elbows, no stuck in line-ups, no more of this wait … wait … do this … do that, then this, then that, keep waiting in line! The Pontiac is beautifully different. Who wants to vacation in line-ups?

We are the escape. The Pontiac is inspiring and natural and full of opportunities. One-time visitors might decide to settle down and raise a family here … as so many of us have already done. Here is where we can go outside and see the night sky as dark and bright as it really is: full of stars, not a few sparks in the sky.

That’s the Pontiac we’ve all built, perhaps only by omission, but let’s tell everyone we are proud of it and there’s so much natural beauty, so much fun, with no line-ups needed.