The timing could not have been better for Tourism Week. American tourists were arriving at the Creston Visitor Centre in droves as they took advantage of the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend to cross over into Canada.
“It started on Friday,” Visitor Centre manager Amy Maddess said on Monday. “I would say 70 to 80 per cent of our visitors were Americans, and not just from Idaho. Many were from the southeast U.S., including Mississippi and Kansas.”
Maddess was joined at her workplace on Monday morning by Mayor Ron Toyota, who was responding to Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Minister Shirley Bond’s challenge to B.C. mayors,
“We encourage you to select a local visitor centre, major attraction, resort, gift shop, transit hub or another high-profile location to work alongside staff and volunteers to meet with and service visitors to your community for one hour that day,” Bond said in a letter to B.C. mayors in April. “We sincerely hope that you will be part of this unique and exciting endeavor. Thank you for helping to build tourism into one of B.C.’s leading and sustainable industries, and for supporting Tourism Week, May 29-June 4, 2016.”
Toyota spent two hours at the Visitor Centre on Monday morning, and said he enjoyed meeting visitors, many of whom expressed surprise to be greeted by the mayor.
The influx of visitors from the U.S. isn’t only due to the weakened Canadian dollar, which makes Canada a great value for international tourists.
“It has a lot to do with how much promotion Americans do for the International Selkirk Loop,” said Maddess. “Canada doesn’t spend much money on its promotion, but the Americans spend millions — they think it is really important.”
The International Selkirk Loop is a scenic 450 kilometre drive that meanders around a circular route through eastern Washington, northern Idaho and southeastern British Columbia, running through Sandpoint, Nelson and Creston, and other smaller communities. It is one of only 32 designated National Scenic Byways in the U.S.
“The Selkirk loop needs to be on every traveller’s bucket list,” says RV America Magazine.