Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel spins the magic wheel to determine the winners of this year’s silver salmon derby at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel spins the magic wheel to determine the winners of this year’s silver salmon derby at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Firm updates council on efforts to market Kenai to visitors

During 2021, the company seized opportunities to highlight local businesses and promoted relocation to Kenai

Concentrated efforts to promote the City of Kenai as a place to live, work and play are yielding returns. That’s per Coy West, the CEO and Founder of Diving Point, a strategic marketing agency that has worked with the City of Kenai for about three years. West updated the Kenai City Council during the body’s Feb. 2 meeting on how the firm has worked recently to promote the city on a statewide and national level.

“​​As we have sought to promote the city, we are really trying to bring all eyes onto the great things that are happening here and the great things to come,” West told the council.

West said Divining Point focused on promoting the City of Kenai as the best place for people to start a business, to relocate their family and to visit while on vacation. During 2021 especially, West said, the company seized opportunities to highlight Kenai’s local businesses and focused on promoting relocation to Kenai.

A desire among people nationwide to relocate, West said, is driving an increase in real estate demand that Divining Point tried to capitalize on. Though real estate inquiries into the Kenai Peninsula shifted last year from what the firm was targeting, he said, interest grew from unexpected places, such as Georgia and Nevada.

“We really identified that these people were looking to get out of the cities and states that they’re in right now and pursue a completely different direction in their lives,” West said.

West said the annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby is something that is coming to be closely associated with the city. Touted as “The World’s Most Responsible Fishing Tournament,” the derby awards prizes to anglers whose fish weigh in closest to a “magic number” determined by the spinning of a wheel.

Meant to discourage catch and release methods that can be harmful to local salmon populations, last year’s event offered derby participants thousands of dollars in prizes and saw more than 130 people register. West said Divining Point was able to take out a full-page editorial in Parks and Recreation Magazine, which is distributed throughout the United States.

“It’s starting to actually define Kenai in some ways for its uniqueness,” West told the council.

Success of Diving Points marketing efforts, West said, can be seen, in part, in the growth of sales tax revenue in the city. While other municipalities on the Kenai Peninsula took financial hits to sales tax revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Kenai continued to report gains.

Looking ahead, West said Diving Point is focused on continuing the current momentum and that their efforts will shift back to tourism as summer approaches.

“We’re looking forward to the work that we still have remaining here on our scope, as well as the great things that we have laid before us,” West said. “I’m really excited about some of the achievements that we’ve made just in the last six months.”

The Kenai City Council’s full Feb. 2 meeting can be viewed on the City of Kenai’s YouTube channel.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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