Revelstoke summer tourism boom expected for Canada 150

Community has hand in balancing tourism growth and maintaining small town feel, say tourism marketers

By Emily Kemp, Special to the Review

Promotion of Revelstoke has accelerated in recent years with travel media and enthusiasts capturinga steady stream the experience of the city and its surroundings. Local marketing body Tourism Revelstoke collects this ongoing surge of real-life videos and articles are collated into a database.

“It’s ridiculous how much we have,” Tourism Revelstoke’s Sarah Petersen said. “It’s been really neat to see it over the past year and half and we’re just watching it grow. It’s literally not stopping.”

On the back of a fantastic 2016/17 winter season and consistently growing tourism numbers, marketing has shone a light on Revelstoke’s goods.

Two contributing faces behind this success are Peterson and her superior Megan Tabor. The work benefits these two enjoy, sampling Revelstoke’s best experiences, might mean they have arguably some of the best jobs in town. But while they play hard, they also work hard to promote these activity options to the public.

Tourism Revelstoke aims to increase visits to the city and, in turn, revenue for local business. Tabor has been with the organisation for about five years and was recently promoted to marketing manager for the Revelstoke Accommodation Association. Peterson came onboard in March 2016 as a social media specialist and was promoted earlier this year to tourism marketing coordinator for the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce.

Today in downtown Revelstoke, bright potted flower arrangements show off the beautification efforts done in preparation of the annual horde of summer tourists. Each year more come. Throughout last year, almost 55,000 people went through the Revelstoke Visitor Centre doors — a 24 per cent increase on 2015.

Numbers are again expected to increase this year due to a combination of Canada 150 celebrations, free national parks and, of course, the continued hype of Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s pipe mountain coaster. But it’s not unique to Revelstoke.

“Canada is a hot topic right now,” Tabor said. “It’s a trend across B.C. and Canada. Visitation is up everywhere.”

Revelstoke has come a long way from the financial crisis of 2008, which threatened to destroy its budding tourism industry, and the special sauce that makes visitors giddy for Revelstoke appears to be the city’s real-town feel. Tabor describes Revelstoke as a city without localism where visitors can bump into ski-pros on the chair lift.

“The residents have some joie de vivre here and tourists feel that and they feel welcome,” Tabor said. “It’s really the community that’s embraced tourism in the last five to 10 years, because a lot of the newer generation realize the positive impact on their quality of life through adding tourists in town.”

Revelstoke has not escaped the struggles many growing tourist towns face. The current city council has dealt with their fair share of complex difficulties such as infrastructure challenges and building permits delays.

Many have also questioned — how long is growth a good thing until the small-town appeal is lost? Both Tabor and Peterson agree being proactive is key and believe that the community has a hand in this delicate balancing act.

“I think the community as a whole is powerful enough that it’s going to steer it in the right direction,” Tabor said and gave the example of the proposed Revelstoke Crossing highway mall development that was defeated due to community dissent.

Tourism goals for the city continue to be finding shoulder season events that work with the unpredictable weather and getting more traffic off the highway — what Tabor describes as our lowest hanging fruit.

“Just to be able to capture even a small percentage more of that would have a huge impact on the community,” she said.

The city has also applied for $100,000 in funding from the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund for the Revelstoke Tourism Plan, which will develop a comprehensive housing strategy and plan for a multi-use facility at the Revelstoke Golf Club.

As more people come and call the community home, Tabor believes the tourism future in Revelstoke is extremely bright. “It’s exciting,” she said. “I think we have a lot of momentum moving forward.”

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