The Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for Fernie has been released after being delayed by the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
Efforts to develop the TMP were spearhead by Tourism Fernie, which collaborated with the City of Fernie, Chamber of Commerce and RDEK to engage with the community to create the plan.
In presenting the TMP online, Tourism Fernie chief executive and TMP project manager Jikke Gyorki said that Fernie had been in need of a supportive and collaborate plan that factored in the Fernie community and all stakeholders.
The final copy of the TMP is full of references to the impact of the pandemic, acknowledging that in early 2020, “the tourism industry on a global level was faced with one of, if not the most significant threat to its sustainability, at least in the short-term, and a massive shift in travel demand, supply and trends.”
As a result the TMP, which was in development since early 2018, was adapted to the new reality of the industry.
In the presentation, Gyorki said that the plan had “integrated the new challenge while holding true to the original goals,” with the primary goal of the plan in the immediate term being to recover from the pandemic.
The wide-ranging plan establishes focus areas for the industry, each with strategic directions that can be taken in order to shore up the sector.
On a macro scale, focus areas identified were visitation, visitor experiences, tourism foundations and sustainable management. Each focus area offered multiple directions to be taken over time.
Through the first area – ‘diversity of visitors’ – the plan identified a need to firstly recover from COVID-19 and encourage the development of a year-round tourist base for consistent economic benefits to the town.
One way to do so was through embracing the second homeowners present in Fernie, and use them as “ambassadors for Fernie.”
The ‘visitor experience’ focus was on the further cultivation visitor infrastructure options, saying that there was a need to expand indoor activities (after COVID), and create a focal visitor point for visitor staging and gathering.
The ‘tourism foundation’ focus highlighted goals to develop community support for the industry and enhance the working relationship with the Ktunaxa/KRBI.
Lastly, the ‘sustainable management’ focus area appeared to zoom in on local concerns, with its goal being to “manage locations where visitation is impacting the sense of community or natural environment and support the resiliency of the industry.”
Some of the directions listed included improving transport both to and within Fernie and to “foster greater care and appreciation of Fernie.”
There are many options beyond those listed above available going forward. “Over 100 actions were identified in our tourism master plan,” explained Gyorki.
“There is no doubt that this is a long-term process and a committment. Things will change over time, and that changes actions that will happen. Some may be deleted over time, or some new ones added. It is an evolution moving forward.”
The full TMP will be available online on the Tourism Fernie website at tourismplanfernie.com.
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