New B.C. Family Day holiday seen as boon for Revelstoke winter tourism

Revelstoke tourism stakeholders applauded the B.C. government's plan to create a new family day in February, saying timing was key

Revelstoke tourism stakeholders are applauding the B.C. government’s plan to create a new ‘Family Day’ holiday in February, saying it will be a boon for winter tourism.

On May 28, Premier Christy Clark announced the provincial Family Day holiday will take place each year on the second Monday in February.

Clark promised the new holiday during her B.C. Liberal leadership campaign last year. It will join February holidays in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. “Creating a Family Day in B.C. was an important priority for me. Today, my government is following through on that commitment and I am proud and delighted to let families across B.C. know that our very first Family Day will be on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013,” Clark said in a statement.

An extra vacation in February bodes well for winter tourism in general, but choosing which weekend was key. Alberta’s Family Day is on the third Monday in February, as is President’s Day in the U.S., creating one of the busiest weekends of the year for Revelstoke Mountain Resort and local accommodation providers.

Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Goodman said the local chamber lobbied minister of labour Margaret MacDiarmid for the second Monday to help alleviate the bottleneck of long lift lines and over-booked hotel rooms. “That’s what the majority of our members wanted,” Goodman said. “That’s good news for us.” She said the majority of businesses supported it, though a few had concerns.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort marketing manager Kevin Manuel said the resort was “extremely excited” about the opportunity. “Due to our close proximity to the Alberta border, both the town of Revelstoke and Revelstoke Mountain Resort are at full capacity over the Alberta Family Day Weekend. Having B.C. Family Day fall on the second weekend in February not only offers British Columbians the opportunity to experience Revelstoke’s attractions, but it also represents a significant economic opportunity for the community as a whole.” Manuel said the resort was already planning ski-and-stay packages for B.C. residents for the 2013 long weekend.

Revelstoke Accommodation Association executive director Thom Tischuk said the RAA had also lobbied for the date. “It only makes sense to spread out the visitor traffic in February and not disappoint skiers and snowmobilers wanting to come to Revelstoke because they cannot [get] accommodation,” he said. “The B.C. date will bode well for many of our Revelstoke businesses.”

Their sentiments were echoed by the ski industry as a whole. “The B.C. ski industry would like to thank the provincial government for how it has managed the Family Day consultation. We are very pleased with the outcome and we are confident that this decision will drive significant benefits for the tourism industry, the provincial economy and the people of British Columbia,” said David Lynn, president and CEO, Canada’s West Ski Areas Association.

On May 28, NDP MLAs supported B.C. Liberal members in the key legislature vote to approve the new statutory holiday.

The new holiday is not without its critics. Independent MLAs criticized the move and forced a standing vote, after listing the costs it would impose on business.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that Family Day will cost the average small business more than $1,100 in wage costs, either paying employees to stay home or overtime to come to work.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington reminded the legislature the new holiday is imposed on business after three increases in the minimum wage in the past year, an average $3,000 transition to the harmonized sales tax and soon a similar cost to switch back to the provincial sales tax next year.

~with notes from Tom Fletcher/Black Press

 

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