The Tourism & Hospitality Industry is experiencing a steady and significant growth and is becoming an important contributor to the regional economic, social and cultural well-being in the Kootenay Rockies region and in Fernie.
While the resource sectors are still strong, many municipalities across the region are embracing tourism as a way to diversify their local economy, contribute to resident and business attraction and improve the quality of life and the vibrancy of their communities. Many of the great amenities that contribute to a desirable lifestyle are being sustained in large part by a strong visitor base.
Fernie began working on a Tourism Master Plan initiative in 2018. This is a document informed by the community and developed by a group with a broad cross-section of interests related to tourism. The planning process provides an opportunity for business, local government, cultural organizations, other community based groups and community members to:
– Identify a tourism vision that supports broad community outcomes
– Understand tourism resources and potential
– Capitalize on existing and emerging tourism opportunities provides
– Address tourism obstacles to overcome
– Allocate resources to pursue actions in the short/medium/long term
– Set the future stage for long-term success
Tourism has been called the gateway to rural economic development and is a significant economic sector in many towns and regions. More than just any other industry, tourism requires collaboration and partnering locally with residents, businesses, user groups and organizations, as well as with regional and provincial organizations. Done right, tourism can bring many benefits to communities; doing it right requires proactive planning and ongoing governance for community success.
Over 2 million people visit the Kootenay Rockies each year and experience the outstanding outdoors, authentic mountain towns with lively culture, locally sourced food & beverages, local museums, festival and events. The tourism industry is made up of some 820 businesses, most of which are small and locally-owned and employ over 4,000 people.
Visitor spending in the Kootenay Rockies communities account for over $655M and accommodation revenue keeps growing at a steady pace and, in 2017 reached $129.2M.
In 2017 Fernie’s accommodation revenues increased by 18%. This was an increase from the 2014-2015 numbers that included:
– 307,000 visitors
– $100+ million in annual visitor spending
– Average spend of $580 per overnight visit
– Average length of stay was 3.4 nights
– 49% from Alberta
– 16% from BC
– 15% from other parts of Canada
– 12% from overseas
– 8% from USA
In the province of BC, tourism’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is actually surpassing Agriculture and Fisheries, Forestry and Mining combined at approximately $8.4 Billion.
Kootenay Rockies Tourism CEO, Kathy Cooper states: “Tourism should be recognized for its outstanding contribution to our unique way of life here in the region. Not only does it bring new monies into our businesses and communities, it helps our residents and visitors connect with our landscape, our culture and our stories in an authentic way. ”
Tourism Week, an event celebrated across BC and Canada from May 26 to June 2 is a great way to raise the profile of the industry and demonstrate how tourism can benefit communities.
The economy of Fernie has been very favourable and diversification is the envy of every small town. Get out and celebrate tourism week by enjoying a collection of Fernie’s new amenities and services!
Photo Credit Tourism Fernie Association