Uproar prompts Campbell River Visitor Centre relocation

The Visitor Centre is back downtown after tourism operators denounced its relocation to the museum

The city’s Visitor Centre is back downtown, next to Spirit Square, after a temporary relocation to the museum that had tourism operators up in arms.

Campbell River’s Visitor Information Centre is back downtown after a months-long hiatus from its home next to Spirit Square.

Mayor Andy Adams said the centre was relocated back to the Centennial Building, which also houses the Art Gallery, on Friday morning – just two days after the city’s new tourism marketing strategist heard overwhelmingly from tourism operators that they were not happy with the city’s decision to move the Visitor Centre out of the downtown core.

“We heard loud and clear Wednesday night,” Adams said. “I’m pleased to see staff, in collaboration with Destination Think, move quickly to address one of the concerns there.”

Destination Think, a marketing firm chosen by council to reinvent the city’s tourism model, heard from tourism operators during a public open house last Wednesday that trying to direct tourists to visitor information services at the museum was difficult. In some cases, tourists got confused, mixing up the Maritime Heritage Centre with the Museum at Campbell River. Other times, hoteliers refused to send travellers in motor homes up the steep hill on 5th Avenue to the museum.

The city relocated its visitor information services to the museum in January. It was supposed to be a temporary, cost-saving measure during the slower months while the city was in a transition period with respect to its tourism delivery. However, at a council meeting April 10, council was told by City Manager Deborah Sargent that the museum was happy to continue running visitor services out of its building until at least the end of this month. Sargent said that the museum was benefitting from having the service, with an increase of visitors “on an almost daily basis.”

But some councillors weren’t exactly pleased with the situation.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion in the community and with visitors,” Coun. Marlene Wright said at the April 10 council meeting, noting that visitors would arrive at the original downtown Visitor Centre building, where signs remained up.

Adams, at that time, promised that one of Destination Think’s top priorities would be to sort out the Visitor Centre.

On Friday, the marketing firm followed through, and on Monday, things were getting back to normal.

“I stopped in at the Visitor Centre today (Monday) and was very pleased to see they were getting everything in order,” Wright said. “This morning they had 23 visitors from Europe and the States and Alberta. There was lots of action already.”

Sargent confirmed the Visitor Centre was busy.

“By the end of the day, there were 62 visitors that had come to the Visitor Information Centre,” she said.

“So it’s a good thing we didn’t take the signs down,” Adams added.