Campbell River Visitor Centre inquiries soar, council told

It was an “extremely” good year for the Campbell River Visitor Centre as staff helped inject thousands of dollars into the local economy, according to tourism staff.

Mary Ashley, director of the Campbell River Economic Development Corporation, told city council recently that Visitor Centre staff assisted with record numbers of hotel and tour bookings.

“Between the 12th of April to the end of August we were able to help with reservations to local and regional tourism operators to the tune of $119,000 which is a considerable amount of dollars compared to other years,” Ashley said.

Over the first two weeks of September, staff did an additional $44,000 in bookings.

“So it was an extremely good year,” Ashley said, in terms of bookings, with the Visitor Centre doing $166,300 worth of bookings year to date, compared with just $60,000 in 2015.

In terms of visits, Ashley said that 2016 saw about 200 people come into the Visitor Centre on an average day. She said those numbers put Campbell River as the fourth highest on the Island – behind Victoria, Ucluelet and Tofino – in Visitor Centre numbers.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield told Ashley that the Campbell River Visitor Centre made quite the impression on a group of tourists from Austria and that one individual in the group sent a letter expressing his appreciation.

“The individual sent a note saying that of all the visitor centres they had stopped in in Western Canada, including Banff and Squamish and Whistler and others, that Campbell River’s was by far and away the most informative and the most helpful on their entire trip,” Cornfield said.

Ashley thanked Cornfield for passing that along and credited the staff at the Visitor Centre for making such an impression. She added that the Austrians weren’t the only visitors impressed by Campbell River.

“The number of new residents, people coming to live in Campbell River or thinking about living in Campbell River coming by the Visitor Centre is really quite amazing,” Ashley said. “I think that is a huge boon for our Visitor Centre and our community as well.”

People were also impressed with the newly revamped Campbell River Discovery Guide in 2016. Demand for the original 50,000 copies was so high that a second print (15,000 copies) and distribution was needed, resulting in an additional $20,000 which came out of accumulated surplus funds.

This year also saw a complete renovation of the Visitor Centre and revamped and enhanced merchandise. Tourism and Visitor Centre staff also participated in a number of community events, via the roaming street team or hosting a booth at some of the events. The Visitor Centre’s success comes during a year of transition for the city which is launching a new tourism strategy this fall that will involve a three per cent local hotel tax, a five-year marketing plan and a nine-member tourism advisory committee.