Rossland gets funding to support tourism initiatives

"The money will cover approximately $40,000 of the $90,000 it costs to operate the Free Ride Bus."

Skiers will again be getting a free ride to Red Resort this season now that Rossland has earmarked a portion of annual funding for the bus.

The city will receive just over $71,000 to support local tourism infrastructure and amenities from the province’s Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI), which is dedicated to growing the tourism sector.

“The shuttle has been really successful,” said Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore. “One of the main things it does is enables big tour groups of 20 to 50 people to come to our hill. A lot of them wouldn’t if there wasn’t a shuttle, a way to get from town to the ski hill.”

The money will cover approximately $40,000 of the $90,000 it costs to operate the Free Ride Bus. Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland, which manages the contribution, is now tasked with securing the remaining dollars from partners and stakeholders in town.

The rest of the government boost will cover the continuation of artistic banners at the resort, the creation of a tourism events board on the corner of Columbia and St. Paul streets, signs pegged for Pioneer Park and the city’s portion ($8,000) to operate the Spokane shuttle. The bus in its third year is also supported by Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and White Water Resort,

“It’s really hard to get to us in the winter, and we have some challenges with Castlegar airport so we decided to focus on the Spokane airport and get our guests from Spokane as easily as possible,” explained Steven.

Guests fly into the closest international airport, are picked up and brought to Rossland or Nelson. The service has made it easier for international tourists and Americans, who can take advantage of the Canadian dollar that dipped below 75 cents (U.S.) Tuesday.

“We can see that ridership is going up and that’s our goal is to bring the ridership up to a point where we don’t have to subsidize it anymore,” added Steven.

Rossland has been participating in the RMI program since 2007. The city prioritizes its funding on projects that enhance the visitors’ experience and broaden available activities.

The B.C. tourism industry created 132,200 jobs and generated $13.9 billion in revenues in 2013. RMI helping resort-based municipalities address the unique challenges they face as seasonally dependent economies.