For years there has been frequent mention in the media that tourism is an important part of B.C.’s provincial economy; big dollars, big business. What perhaps hasn’t been as obvious is how much of those tourist dollars that come in to B.C. are generated in the Kootenays.
The Kootenay Rockies Tourism (KRT) Industry Conference and General Meeting was held at the Prestige Mountain Resort in Rossland last Wednesday, and the newly appointed CEO of the organization, Kathy Cooper, was in town to tell assembled tourism partners that the contribution of our region is considerable.
KRT reported that the Kootenay region accounts for $1.3 billion in tourism revenue, a surprising 10 per cent of all tourist dollars spent in the province coming from a relatively vast region geographically, but small in terms of population.
“In terms of tourist destinations there is a lot of product in this area,” said Cooper. “In snowsports alone we have the highest concentration of destinations in the province and the country.”
The majority of tourist traffic in our region is Canadian vacationers, mostly from Alberta, followed by international tourists and then U.S. tourists.
“What the visitors are coming to the region for varies depending on the season obviously,” said Cooper. “Skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, golf and adventure tourism in the summer, general touring is actually our largest market and there’s a growing market in motorcycling.”
Cooper mentioned the many hot springs in the region as being a particular draw, as well as the fact that many resorts have been developing mountain bike trails as off-season attractions to complement skiing.
“It tends to be a fairly broad mix of people coming to the region,” Cooper said. “A lot of families and couples at resorts, groups of golfers, mostly men but a growing number of groups of women as well.”
KRT was formed as a non-profit in 1978 to promote the Kootenays as a tourist destination and devotes much of its energy to producing slick promotional brochures, a newly re-vamped website, touring to various consumer shows, and now, a newly released smart phone app, all to sell the Kootenays as the place to visit.
For more information on KRT and some of the amazing places to go and things to do in the Kootenays go to krtourism.ca.