Tourism in Kimberley had a slow start in 2015, says Tourism Kimberley’s Jesse Ferguson, in a report to City Council, but the summer compensated for it.
“We had hard winter last year,” Ferguson said. “There wasn’t much snow but I am happy to say that after the hardships with the winter, the summer season was very strong.”
Ferguson added that with what they were given, the Kimberley Alpine Resort staff did an amazing job keeping runs open.
Overall, tourism numbers are up four per cent this year due to the fact that the summer months were some of the best on record, he says.
For the coming year, Ferguson says we’ll have to wait and see.
“The travel trend right now is that people are hesitant to throw money at ski vacations. We’re not seeing a lot of bookings right now. I think people will wait for snow reports.”
Ferguson says that at recent ski shows he has attended, people are certainly aware of Kimberley and would like to come, but are waiting to see if last year’s weather repeats across western Canada.
Ferguson says Kimberley has huge potential and that the rebranding of a few years ago is working.
“It’s really catching on and we are being seen as we want to be seen. We are catching eyes all over the world.”
All over the world is where Ferguson and Tourism Kimberley want the word to go.
“We know our bread and butter is Calgary. It always will be,” he said. “But we have this airport, one of the closest to a ski resort anywhere in the world. Long haul travellers stay longer, and they have to buy their food and beer here.”
For that reason, Tourism Kimberley will continue to work on attracting long haul visitors in the coming year.
Another asset of great potential is the conference centre, Ferguson says. Of the $75,000 the City grants to Tourism Kimberley yearly, 65 per cent will go to conference centre promotion this year. A salesman has been hired to attract more conferences and he is just beginning work.
Ferguson also spoke of Kimberley trail development and how that is growing into a very positive asset for Kimberley.
“This year we had 30,000 through the doors of the visitors centre and over 10,000 of them were looking for information on trails. Local accommodators report a ten per cent increase in traffic this summer due to events that were trail-based. We see potential to market that and we will continue to do so.”
For the future, Ferguson says that Tourism Kimberley is very aware that people are looking for remarkable experiences.
“We are trying to market that experience you can only get in Kimberley at a certain place, a certain restaurant, meeting a certain person.”
Old marketing slogans promising ‘something for everyone’ just don’t work anymore, he says.
“We need to market ‘something for someone’.”
The other new trend is very last minute booking. Ferguson says that local accommodators have told him that on Thursday it may look like you have 60 per cent occupancy for the weekend but by Sunday you can hit 94 per cent.
All activity providers in Kimberley reported growth in 2015, including golf which was up for the first time in years, perhaps in part due to a the warm spring. In any event, Ferguson says the way golf is marketed is changing as well, hoping to appeal to those looking for a casual recreation experience.
Mayor Don McCormick said that Tourism Kimberley was doing a great job.
“Its important to understand that Tourism Kimberley’s efforts are the reason we have visitors,” he said. “We are not on a major highway. Everyone who comes to Kimberley, comes because they want to. We are not like other resort municipalities.”