Visitors to Bowen speak from the heart

At council this week, Sheree Johnson and Edward Wachtman, members of the municipality’s Economic Development Branding Sub-Committee, presented a preliminary overview of information collected through responses to the Visitors Exit Survey conducted this summer. Roughly 4,000 to 4,500 information cards led to a survey link online; 307 visitors responded.
“The completeness and depth of these responses is informative in itself,” says Wachtman. “Some visitors took the time to write lengthy paragraphs about their experience and how they felt about their time on Bowen. The survey asked both open-ended and quantitative questions, with an overall aim of discovering ‘the emotional heart’ of the visitor experience of Bowen Island.”
“In order to create compelling communications, to capture people’s imaginations so they want to come to Bowen, we need to understand what the emotional benefits are of being here,” says Johnson. Wachtman added, “And if we can create an emotional connection with visitors, they will more likely come back and also tell their friends to visit Bowen.”
Johnson noted that when visitors responded to the question ‘what three words come to mind when you think of Bowen,’ the top words were peaceful, beautiful and relaxing. When asked ‘what makes Bowen unique,’ visitors overwhelming mentioned the closeness to Vancouver. “None of our competitor destinations, not Whistler or Squamish or the Sunshine Coast, are as close to the city as we are. It felt to visitors that when they come here, they are in ‘another world’,” says Wachtman. One visitor whimsically wrote, “It feels like time has not caught up to this magical land.   Like walking through the armoire into Narnia without an evil queen to worry about.”
Visitors often described their journey as a healing escape from the stress of city life to a peaceful haven of harmony and balance. Even the ferry, which for us can sometimes feel like a hassle, is part of the healing and magic of the Bowen Island experience.  One visitor wrote it so clearly, “The ferry ride alone recharged me as I saw the surrounding mountains and sparkly waters.”
Johnson and Wachtman believe these visitor insights will be useful in guiding business opportunities for tourism on Bowen. They look forward to continuing their work with the municipality’s Economic Development Committee towards a comprehensive branding project.
Both say that overall, the survey results left them feeling extremely proud to be Bowen Islanders.

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