In 2010, Gold Country Communities Society received a $98,000 grant from Northern Development through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program towards this $350,000 project. This has been a funding partnership of Gold Country Communities Society, Northern Development, Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, Union of BC Municipalities, and Western Economic Diversification
2012 – Geotourism is the modern treasure hunt with a twist that combines the outdoor adventure and exploration activities of geocaching and letterboxing, with anecdotal and historical education. Using a GPS or traditional treasure hunt clues to locate boxes hidden throughout the region, tourists can uncover countless riches along the way!
The Gold Country Communities Society, who represent a large area including Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lytton, Merritt, and several electoral districts of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, have entered into the second phase of the highly successful Gold Country Geotourism Program.
The Gold Country Geotourism Program involves the identification of key sites related to history, culture and natural history. Under this project, once a geocache site is determined by Gold Country Communities Society, a ‘site page’ is written that details the history or significance of the site. Along with the historical information, GPS coordinates and treasure hunt clues are added to each page. A box containing a log book and identification stickers is ‘cached’ at each specified location throughout the region. All site pages are related to a given theme and placed in a Field Guide that is published and placed on the internet.
Tourists and residents can download a single page, the entire field guide or pick up the printed field guide and day sheets at Info Centers and Museums within the Gold Country region. When they find the box at each site, visitors sign the log book and collect a sticker to show they have found the location. Once they have found a set number of locations, they can present their completed pages to collect a prize.
The experience has proven to be fun, recreational and educational for people of all ages. Most importantly, it continues to draw tourists into the Gold Country region and acts as an important incentive to retain tourists in small communities and to visit areas that are ‘off the beaten track’, helping to inject tourism spending into rural communities throughout the region.
This project is part of a multi-year program expansion that has been supported through a previous investment by Northern Development:
"The GeoTourism Program has been a true success story for Gold Country Communities Society. Not only has the program created jobs in rural BC, it has also attracted a new niche market of traveller to explore the region, which brings both social and economic benefits to our member communities and local businesses. Our communities have experienced increased visitation as a direct result of this program. We are grateful to Northern Development for providing funding for this program, which would not have gotten off the ground without their support"Erica Hummel, Business and Marketing Manager, Gold Country Communities Society
With the growing popularity of geocaching worldwide, geotourism in Gold Country has been able to inject revenue into the regional economy, encourage increased health and exercise, provide opportunities for environmentally friendly tourism, and further economic diversification and new business prospects. This program also stimulates provides interactive educational opportunities and elevates the status of historic sites furthering preservation and restoration.
The development of the Gold Country Geotourism Program has helped in developing regional resources to support sustainable year-round tourism, encourage healthier lifestyles, preserve Gold Country heritage through education, and increasing business revenues throughout the region.
In June 2012, Gold Country provided a project update that over 4,000 visitors a year visit the society's existing caches and that Gold Country anticipates their numbers to double with the addition of 72 more caches launching during the summer of 2012.