August is attracting some much needed tourists. Although the Shuswap took a hit at the beginning of July, tourism hasn’t suffered too much since.
There are no signs of reaching the pre-2008 numbers any time soon, but Shuswap Tourism manager Robyn Cyr says the Shuswap is holding steady.
“I would say overall we’re doing okay,” she said. “We could be doing better.”
When compared the struggles of previous years, Cyr says the Shuswap is doing well and although the numbers are only slowly increasing, activity does seem to be picking up.
The Visitor Information Centre has been busy. Coordinator Janice Dewitt says, from her point of view, tourism isn’t down.
From May to June, she’s seen less than a 100-person increase from last year, but says it seems like a substantial increase.
People are hanging around longer too, with vacations lasting one or two weeks compared to the overnight stays that were more common last year.
The Podollan Inn has had a busy August – above average according to manager Cindy Martynuik. July brought an average amount of visitors, she said, but she’s seen a definite increase for August.
Over at the Prestige, however, numbers have dropped this year.
“July was quite a bit slower than we had anticipated and I attribute that to what was happening in Alberta,” said manager Heather Bodnarchuk.
Although August has picked up, activity is lower than last year. Bodnarchuk anticipates that numbers will be on par with last year when all is said and done. There is hope that August can make up for July, though.
With weeks of sunshine, the weather been a boost for businesses that depend on it. Sea-Dog Rentals at Marine Park has seen an increase in activity for August but an average year in general.
Back at the beginning of July the house boating industry only experienced a couple of cancellations but is still suffering from a lower than average year.
“It would be crazy to compare to last year,” said Neil Millar, general manager of Waterway Houseboats, adding that they are still below where they would expect to be.
The response from customers has been positive, so there is clearly something else at work, Millar said.
Shuswap Tourism works with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association to gather statistics but Cyr says there aren’t any tale-telling numbers because they aren’t specific to the Shuswap. They plan to work more closely with the local operators and get more accurate statistics.
Northern B.C. and northern Washington will be among new regions that Shuswap Tourism will be marketing to in the future. This year has brought more American tourists than previous years, Cyr said
This will also be the first year that Shuswap Tourism will do three winter showcases in Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Saskatoon. They continue to target Vancouver and Calgary. Cyr said Shuswap Tourism had next to no presence in Vancouver until a few years ago and it should be a large market for them. Calgarians continue to flock to the Shuswap and new Calgarians are always interested to hear what the Shuswap has to offer.