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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, July 9, 2015

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Celebrating Tourism

For the love of Fernie

If one thing is clear these days it’s that the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Globalization, shifting economies and increasing competitiveness are simply a fact of the new millennium.

approximately19,254 tourismrelated businesses, employing about 132,000 people (DBC, 2013). With this expansion and growth of the tourism industry, governments and private industry around the world are seeing the value of

by Mike McPhee Marketing Director Island Lake Lodge Photographer/Writer

Communities across B.C. and North America have realized that having a diversified economic base is one of the keys to long-term stability and greater overall success. Fernie is fortunate to have the mining and forestry industries as major economic drivers, and it is also lucky to have a robust tourism economy. Tourism is one of the largest industries on the planet contributing about 9.1 per cent of GDP and one in 11 jobs globally (UNWTO, 2014), sustained worldwide growth rate of 4.0 per cent to 4.5 per cent is set to continue through 2015 and beyond. In Canada, tourism is worth approximately $78.8 billion. In B.C. it is worth about $13.9 billion and here in the Kootenays about $1.3 billion. In B.C. there are

tourism in a new light. Shifting economic trends are pushing destinations to enhance, build and market their local tourism industries like never before. Fernie is the envy of many towns across North America, as we have a fairly diversified economy already. We have more desirable tourism amenities than many places and these are true assets to the economy and community as a whole. From a world-class ski hill, to hiking and biking trails, to fly-fishing and the historical downtown, Fernie has a solid mix of offerings. In addition to recreation, there are a great blend of retail, restaurants, arts and culture. These amenities are not only attractive to the visitor, but add to the overall quality of life for all that live here. Fernie has been recognized

...having a diversified economic base is one of the keys to long-term stability... by the province as a Resort Municipality and through this designation, receives a fair bit of extra infrastructure money. The projects that have benefited from these funds enhance the community overall and will be enjoyed for many years to come by locals and visitors alike. Our local Destination Marketing Organization Tourism Fernie, is working hard to keep this part of the local economy prosperous and healthy. This is an important task, as the tourism industry becomes a more competitive place in the new economic landscape we live in. Staying top of mind with visitors, potential investors, other industries and government is advantageous for a host of reasons. Though tourism is just one of our local economic pillars, its substance and growing potential are incredibly important. All in all I hope that we can join together as a community and celebrate our tourism industry and its assets as a substantial part of our economic mix and valuable part of our cultural DNA.

Top: On the deck at Island Lake Lodge; middle: Heiko’s Trail, one of Fernie’s many premier hikes; bottom: fishing the Elk Valley. Photos by Mike McPhee


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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, July 9, 2015

Turbocharging tourism: Canada - open for business

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce _______________________________________________ Uh-oh! Canada’s economy shrank by 0.6 per cent in the first quarter. Consumers stopped spending, business investment is in retreat and inventories are piling up. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get foreigners to come spend money here in Canada? That’s why tourism is one of the top priorities of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. We need it now more than ever. The Governor of the Bank of Canada warned that Canada’s first quarter would be “atrocious” and he was right. Consumers have put their credit cards away and spending barely grew, at just 0.1 per cent. More importantly, the hit from falling oil was severe as business investment fell by 2.5 per cent and support activities for the extraction sector plummeted by 30 per cent. With a weak domestic economy, Canadian business increasingly needs to look for opportunities in international markets. Thank goodness Canada’s second largest export industry is tourism because it is gaining strength! It also benefits restaurants, retailers and so many more companies that don’t export. Tourism is a huge industry, larger than agriculture or the auto sector. It supports 170,000 small and medium-sized businesses across the country, contributes over $88 billion to the Canadian economy

and generates over 627,000 jobs. It is also one of the rare bright lights in the Canadian economy. In the first quarter of 2015, overnight arrivals to Canada hit 2.32 million, a 6.8 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. Visits from the USA were up six per cent and China (+23.9 per cent) and Mexico (+37.8 per cent) were particularly strong. With a growth rate more than double what we saw last year, is it time to celebrate?

...supports 170,000 small and medium-sized businesses across the country, contributes over $88 billion to the Canadian economy and generates over 627,000 jobs. The performance is good, but it comes after years of stagnation and decline. A decade ago, Canada was among the top five international tourist destinations, and now it is in 16th place. The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), responsible for marketing Canada as a tourist destination, has watched its budget steadily decline from $105.9 million in 2009 to just $58 million in 2014. A few

years ago, the CTC stopped marketing in the U.S. to focus on other markets. In May, the Prime Minister announced an additional $10 million per year to market in the U.S. The problem is that $10 million is a drop in the bucket. The government spends around $90 million per year to market its own programs in Canada. Proctor and Gamble spends $275 million annually to market Crest toothpaste in the U.S. If only more people knew about its rich cultural attractions, the potential is enormous. Marketing works. Last year, tourism revenues from countries where Canada is actively marketing itself grew by 13.7 per cent, nearly triple the growth from countries where it doesn’t market. An Australian report showed that each $1 of additional marketing was returning $16 of revenues from tourists, an extraordinary return on investment. The U.S. tourism industry is currently booming. April had the highest occupancy ever (66.8 per cent) and the highest room demand (99.4 million) ever. U.S. hotels are struggling to keep up with demand. With our cheap loonie and our soft economy, this is a great time to let the Americans know that we’re open for business. That’s why the Canadian Chamber is calling for a much larger investment, of around $120 million annually, to market Canada internationally. Visit #StandUpForTourism to join the conversation on Twitter and learn more on our campaign to Stand up for Tourism!

This is Our

Fernie

The Fernie Museum offers visitors a look into those adventures through its exhibit, This is Our Fernie. The exhibit has numerous sections including Fernie Through Time, We Work Hard, We Play Hard and Experience Fernie. Visit Fernie, now and then, and enjoy our authentic mountain town!

2015 EXHIBITS FERNIE AT WAR: THE MORRISSEY INTERNMENT CAMP 492 2nd Ave. Box 1527 Fernie, BC V0B 1M0 Call: 250.423.7016 Web: www.ferniemuseum.com Email: info@ferniemuseum.com

June 5 to September 7, 2015 The exhibit titled Fernie at War: The Morrissey Internment Camp explores a painful period in Canada’s history showing the impact of an international war on the Elk Valley.

AN IMMIGRANT STORY: THE RISE AND FALL OF EMILIO PICARIELLO September 9, 2015 to January 3, 2016

Open Daily 10am to 5:30pm Museum & Visitor Information Center

The exhibit and related programming will provide insight into the immigration history of Fernie and will explore the impact of Prohibition on individuals and the communities in which Picariello lived and operated his legitimate and illegal businesses.


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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, July 9, 2015

CULTURAL TOURISM:

Celebrating Fernie’s mountain culture and heritage Fernie is a global tourism destination. People come for a variety of reasons – our legendary powder, our pristine waterways, the plethora of excellent trails, and to experience a community with a dramatic

landscape that shapes them. One of the fastest growing tourism markets, cultural tourism largely attracts high spending, educated visitors that are culturally savvy and environmentally aware. As a result, the impact of

by Ron Ulrich Fernie Museum

history and a burgeoning arts and culture scene. By definition, cultural tourism is connecting travellers with the unique character of a place – its people, their history and the

this market segment on the environment or local culture is generally minimal while making significant contributions to the local economy and the support of cultural organizations and

events. Fernie offers a wide range of year-round cultural experiences, including numerous galleries, the Arts Station, the Museum, the Library, live music, and excellent local cuisine. Opportunities to experience local culture expand in the summer. Visitors can experience the region’s natural heritage through popular hikes such as the Coal Creek Trail or on a float trip down the mighty Elk River. Visitors can discover Fernie’s culture through art walks and historic walking tours. Events such as the Wapiti Music Festival provide opportunities to explore different sides of Fernie’s unique culture and way of life. Critical to cultural tourism is authenticity, and here Fernie excels. Unlike many resort communities, Fernie has retained its

Critical to cultural tourism is authenticity, and here Fernie excels...Fernie has retained its heritage by maintaining its historic streetscapes and natural landscapes. heritage by maintaining its historic streetscapes and natural landscapes. As a community, we have not divorced ourselves from our historic roots and embrace our coal mining heritage and economy. Preserving and promoting our community’s cultural, natural and built heritage not only contributes to a sense of place, but it makes for good investment towards a vibrant tourism economy. Funds from the Resort Municipality Initiative continue to support the ongoing development and maintenance of our cultural

tourism infrastructure, including the Museum, Arts Station, local trails, and a variety of community events and festivals. Cultural tourism is not just about good business. We welcome vistiors to Fernie to experience what we have long known … that Fernie is a great place to live, work and recreate. Celebrating our community’s heritage and sharing our way of life not only creates a memorable vacation for visitors, it also contributes to our own sense of pride and identity.

Beauty & Sleep... Guaranteed

• Outdoor Hot Tub • Indoor Pool & Hot Tub • Fitness Room • Kitchenettes • Suites • 100% Smoke-Free • Free Wi-Fi

• Banquet & Meeting Facility • Complimentary Breakfast • Boston Pizza • Liquor Store • Massage Studio • Car Rental • Pet Friendly

Fernie Mountain Lodge 250-423-5500 Toll Free: 1-866-423-5566 www.bestwesternfernie.com

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Fernie, the Canadian ski town that could Fernie is a true Canadian ski town. And while skiing has always been a huge part of the community’s heritage, it was made official in the 1950’s when the first tow lift was installed and operated on the south face of Mt. Proctor (behind the Fernie Chamber of Commerce). From there we jump to 1962. With the donation of land from Galloway Lumber, and many countless

by Cali Sammel Fernie Alpine Resort Snow Valley, now known as Fernie Alpine Resort on opening day in January 1963. Photo Fernie Historical Society

volunteer hours from dedicated individuals and businesses, the Fernie Snow Valley Ski Resort officially opened on January 10th, the slopes filled with smiling powder lovers. After the official opening of the ski hill, development kicked into gear with Heiko and Linda Socher. There were many exciting milestones over the next decade, including the beginning of the Ski School in 1968 by Linda Socher, the opening of Lizard Bowl and part of Cedar Bowl in 1969, and the first on-hill accommodation in 1970 - one of the first ski in/ski out lodging properties built in the Rockies.

Purchased in 1997 by resort operators, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), Fernie Alpine Resort has blossomed into a top winter destination in the world, and was recently voted as the Best Resort in North America by the World Ski Awards. Today Fernie Alpine Resort has 142 named runs, five alpine bowls and up to 37 feet of powder a season! In 2012, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the resort had a mid life growth spurt bringing skiing and riding all the way to the peak with the addition of new Polar Peak chairlift. You have to experience this chair to believe it (think of riding through the clouds to the most epic terrain in the region)!

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies is forever grateful for the passion of the people from Fernie, B.C., for their ongoing support of the resort, for their neverending love of winter, outdoor adventure and most of all for where they live! In fact, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies created the ‘Summit Fund’ in 2007 to support community programs, schools and charities wherever possible. The first five years of the Summit Fund supported over 150 community organizations and projects totaling over $150,000. After a brief hiatus RCR renewed another five year commitment to the community starting in 2013. While skiing and snowboarding is a huge draw for people from all over the world to visit Fernie, it’s by far not all there is to this ‘powder promised land’. Staying on mountain at Fernie offers guests the chance to relax and not worry about driving with over five on mountain ski in/ski out properties, over six on mountain eating venues, a convenient on-mountain grocery store and the famous Après Ski Bar - the Griz Bar – “Keeping Rippers Ripped Since 1962”. Venturing to the nearby town offers unique local artisans, the quaintest of bakeries and coffee shops, charming brick architecture, bars full of ski bums from all over the world, and a whole lot of stories & history to learn! Fernie, B.C – where the beer is brewed locally, but the server who brings it to you may be imported, known as “The greatest place on Earth” and where the ‘no friends on a powder day rule’ is observed with full commitment. If you find you never want to leave once you’ve visited, well, that’s not the first time we’ve heard that.


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Insights from Tourism Fernie When you think tourism, what comes to mind? Out-of-towners strolling about with a camera and a map? An influx of excited people on the river and trails? Patios busy with visitors chatting about the day’s events? Tourism is all of that and much more.

The World Tourism Organization defines tourism as ‘a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.’ As a mountain resort community Fernie has been hosting visitors for decades, not only for its scenic beauty but also for the vast unique experiences available. Since 2000, accommodation revenues in Fernie have increased 132% from $6 million annually to over $15 million in 2014. Many businesses and locals rely heavily on tourism to sustain their business and provide jobs, and much of the recreational infrastructure and opportunities in Fernie, available to visitors and locals, are a result of the local tourism economy.

Fernie Accommodation Revenues Since 2000

132% As per the City of Fernie’s Official Community Plan: ‘Fernie boasts a relatively diversified economy compared to some surrounding communities. Two sectors – natural resources and tourism– are particularly important drivers. As the tourism industry in general has developed, and with improvements to transportation infrastructure such as Highway 3 and the regional airport in Cranbrook, resort investment has soared. With mountain biking, golfing, and skiing, tourism in Fernie has become a year-round industry.’ The importance of tourism to Fernie is evident at every corner. Many local families own or operate tourism businesses. Much of Fernie’s population relies on the industry for both year-round and seasonal employment. From hotels and restaurants, to resorts, activity providers, attractions, grocery stores and gas stations, the tourism economy is a key component of what defines Fernie.

TourismFernie.com

So what does the future hold for Fernie? Given the passion and professionalism of the local tourism industry, the global desire to visit beautiful and unique places, and the community’s growing collaborative effort in destination management we see further prosperity and sophistication. There is no doubt that there are external factors that impact tourism, such as the lack of snow most of Western North America encountered last season to oil prices in Alberta, but like any industry tourism weathers the storms and learns from them. The more Fernie can work together to maximize the success and sustainability of tourism and to better understand the metrics and value of the industry the further the community’s economy will grow. Tourism is here to stay.

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TRANS CANADA TRAIL: Fernie, the missing link It’s well known that Fernie has become a worldwide destination for athletes and those seeking a thrill on our hills and mountainsides in both summer and winter.

by Sarah Kucharski Free Press staff

Fernie on the right track.

Latin American cuisine and cocktail lounge, located in the center of Fernie’s vibrant Downtown on 2nd Avenue 531 2nd Ave 250-423-5566

With Fernie being selected as the next city to be marked by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) — a network of bike trails that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific and on to the Arctic ocean — that recognition as an outdoor recreation hub is being solidified. The TCT itself is a 24,000 kilometre long endeavour that will be completed by 2017. The TCT currently connects 1,000 communities across the country and soon will be adding Fernie and its surrounding areas to that list. While there is only a select adventurous handful who will undertake biking the entirety of the TCT, being mapped by such an illustrious national trail literally puts Fernie on the biking map and will invite riders from near and far to ride into town and access everything Fernie has to offer for bikers and beyond.

Bikers crossing the provincial border through the TCT will find their first impression of British Columbia through the Elk Valley, allowing Fernie and its surrounding areas to be a provincial biking ambassador for eastto-west TCT riders. Plans for the exact route of Fernie’s portion of the TCT are still being determined, and though new trails will be constructed for its purpose, the TCT can also plug into pre-existing Fernie trails. Attaching Fernie to the vastly spanning route arteries of the TCT will not only bring added trail adventures for local riders looking to dominate new bike tracks, but will also allow for out-of-province bikers to explore Fernie’s already-expansive trail network of almost 100 trails through the TCT. In this way, it creates a beneficial opportunity for experienced local

Photo Sarah Kucharski

riders and newbie Fernie trail adventurers alike. Fernie’s prosperous biking culture will appeal to visiting TCT bikers who can take advantage of our various riding amenities while they’re in town such as Gear Hub, Straight Line Bicycle & Skis, Ski Base and The Guide’s Hut. Being able to increase our local businesses’ clientele will boost commerce and jobs in Fernie. Encouragement for visiting bikers to make use of Fernie’s mountain bike shuttles and bike guides will encourage higher numbers and ridership of Fernie’s famous single track trails. Further extensive use of these trails will foster the development of more single track paths to accommodate higher ridership numbers and more staff to maintain pre-existing trails to keep up with substantial use from local and tourist bike riders.


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Characters and rivers - a true Trout Town Fernie and the Elk River Valley seem to be one of those rare places that is brimming with authentic character. The cast includes: the indigenous mountain trout of the area – Cutthroat and Bull trout, the plethora of gin clear - freestone rivers, the unique geography and climate of the Elk Valley, the historical coal mining town of Fernie and of course the many unique folk that reside in this picturesque Rocky Mountain landscape. These are some the

by Mike McPhee Fly-fishing Journalist/ Photographer

reasons why Fernie is gaining a reputation as one of the premiere fly-fishing destinations in North America and a true Trout Town. One of the first things you will notice after interacting with the locals is the diverse mix of personalities. You have the born and bred locals, a population of ski bums, fish bums, mountain bikers and other outdoor recreationalists and those seeking escape from the big city. Many of these have come for a season and stayed for life. This makes for an ever-interesting combination of characters.

The character of the rivers and local geography

are also unique. The Lizard Range of the Canadian Rocky Mountains rises up along the Elk Valley in majestic fashion – rivaling what you would find in the National Parks. The Elk River winds through this unique landscape with its cold mountain water journeying from the high country in the North. At least a dozen tributaries of the Elk are prime trout streams as well – each with their own personalities. A couple of the unique components of the Elk and its tributaries seem to be a perfect combination of cold mountain water which the Cutthroat and Bull Trout thrive in - plus the perfect valley temperatures for abundant insect life. The Elk itself is the perfect drift boat river and that is what most of the local guides depend on. I have yet to see so many unique, productive and consistent trout streams as those in the Elk Valley. The Elk River and its tributaries hold the largest population of pure Westslope Cutthroat left in North America - or the world most likely. A healthy population of Bull Trout and Whitefish round out the indigenous fish species of the area. One of the most endearing character traits of “Cutties” is the fact they will surface feed on dry-flies at most times of the day, in all weather and most seasons. The other attributes that make me love Cutties are the places they inhabit. The high mountain streams that are too cold for other trout species seems to be perfect for these guys. Those quiet, out of the way high places are great for the inner explorer and let your inner hunter instinct roam. It’s not unusual to catch beautiful 16-18 inch trout on tiny tributary streams that on first look may seem unworthy. This mixed cast of characters and the places they inhabit keep me at least addicted to

stream fishing.

Locally Owned Guide Service Cat Skiing • Fly Fishing • Wildlife Tours Local Rates 250..423.6704 1.877.423.6704 info@fernieadventures.com

Canadian fly-fishing author and TV personality Jim McLennan catches a beauty of a Bull Trout on the Wigwam River.  Photo by Mike McPhee

I had only experienced this type of fishing a few times before coming to the Elk Valley and I have to admit that it has only added to my character – building patience and giving me more appreciation for the quiet corners of the landscape. The fish, the terrain and the time alone within it have built more character within myself then many years in other outdoor activities. Between the voracious dry fly eating Cutthroat and monster Bull Trout, and the ample drift boat or wading opportunities - the Elk River Valley is a stream fishing paradise full of authentic characters and well worth the moniker - Trout Town.

Park Place Lodge is proud to be a community supporter & tourism partner in Fernie.


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(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT): THE GUIDES HUT: From left: Russ Hanson, Lucia Glasse-Davies, Geoff Halstead and owner Mark Gallup. Gallup opened The Guide’s Hut in 1995. Since that time, the business has grown in to a biker’s paradise, providing locals and visitors with bicycle merchandise, service and repairs, rental bikes (both townies and mountain bikes) and soft good products for year-round use. They currently employ four full-time staff members and four part-time staff members. TOURISM FERNIE: From left: Rebecca Hall, Jikke Gyorki and Nancy Gillis. Tourism Fernie works with visitors to plan the best possible visit to Fernie’s small, yet vibrant city. Three individuals dedicated to spreading information on Fernie’s history, culture and beautiful landscapes currently work at Tourism Fernie, in addition to 11 members occupying seats on the Tourism Fernie Board of Directors. CANYON RAFT COMPANY: Owned and operated by Blair Craig and Lynn Muller, was incorporated in 1995. Employees brave the Elk River rapids on a daily basis from May until August. Currently they have seven full-time and between four and five parttime employees. The locally owned rafting company takes locals and visitors on an incredible eight hour tour of the Elk River’s breathtaking landscapes. NEVADOS: From left: Holly Kimola, restaurant owner Kurt Saari, Xavier Cedeno, Steph Nault, Barrie Elliott and James Newman. Bringing culture to the Fernie’s downtown core, Nevados provides patrons with authentic Latin American tapas, in addition to 35 high-end tequilas and mescals. Currently employing 15 staff members, the unique restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. During the summer months, their gorgeous patio is often filled with laughter, great food and delicious drinks.

Retail Shops

STANFORD HOTELS & RESORTS: From left, back row: Michael Holmes and Jack Rigg. From left, front row: Sharlene Andns, Brianna Cartwright, Elise Bryant, Marley Hess and Corien Sieders. Fernie Stanford Resort offers hotel units, apartment style units and family units for guests. In addition, The Tandoor & Grill Restaurant, located inside of the Stanford, offers a unique blend of Indian and Mexican style food made from fresh ingredients. Fernie Stanford Resort currently employs 25 staff members dedicated to making tourist’s visits to Fernie memorable.

TOURISM

contributes to employment Lodging

Marketing

Restaurants

Recreation


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Fernie - a welcoming destination by Patty Vadnais Executive Director Fernie Chamber of Commerce

Fernie – a place where people make plans to go on vacation years in advance. As a kid, I remember being excited for months about the upcoming school ski trip to Fernie. Everyone wants to come to Fernie. And, a few of us get to live here. I am new to Fernie, been here just over a year, every day I look out



my front window at Mount Fernie and think I am on a holiday. I drive to work thinking I am on a holiday. And why wouldn’t I think this. Over 12,000 visitors walk into the Visitor Information Centre every year to come and see Fernie. What a coveted place. Let us share it. Let us share it with that family

from out of town, that couple on a honeymoon, that group of girls or guys on a stag/ staggette party, that wife who planned a 40th birthday party get away for her husband, in Fernie. The Fernie tourism sector employs over 800 people in the winter and over 200 people in the summer. Some employees are lifelong residents, and some are coming to ‘do a season’ in Fernie. They are all here because of its beauty and its community. Here in Fernie we have some of the best dining anywhere. I grew up in a town of similar size, if I want to go out to eat with my parents when visiting them, our options are Subway or Dairy Queen. We are definitely

spoiled here in Fernie when it comes to dining options in a town of fewer than 5000 people. The visitors allow us to have two grocery stores and many retail options. This selection of shops and services are things not found in other towns of similar size without the scenery, the adventure, and the charm. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce finds over 30 per cent of its membership self-identify as being in the tourism sector. A third of our town lives and thrives off those who want to see what Fernie has to offer. Whether they are retail shops, guiding businesses, ski operations or bike shops, it is the weekend warriors and family adventurers that keep our

shops afloat and allow us, who get to call this place home, the luxury of choice and selection. I love Fernie. I want to soak up all it has to offer. I want others to be able to come and enjoy it for a moment or a lifetime. If we embrace that visitor, and welcome them with our small town charm they will come back, and that is a good thing. Perhaps they are budding entrepreneurs who will choose Fernie for their business and help diversify our economy. Customer service is now about the experience, and I hope we can give visitors to Fernie an experience that is fantastic and memorable.

Photos by Kyle Hamilton and Mike McPhee


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RMI FUNDING:

Resort Municipality Initiative supporting the community Fernie was traditionally a resource-based area, however it has developed into an established and diversified resort destination. Mining and forestry remain very significant to the city, and growth in food and beverage, accommodation,

of the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI). It receives funding that provides Fernie the opportunity to invest in tourism programs and infrastructure to create the world-class experience that visitors expect when they are here.

by Mary Giuliano Mayor of Fernie

entertainment, recreation, retail, personal services, construction, government and technological services have become fairly extensive. This growth has allowed Fernie to become a member

These investments are not otherwise possible through customary revenue sources without adding considerable burden to the municipality. The RMI is a $10.5 million a year program that addresses

the unique situation of resort municipalities to develop and enhance local tourism related infrastructure and amenities. Fernie has received $2,454,207 in funding from the RMI program since 2009. It is a results-based program, which requires accountability of funding to the province. An example of the impact of this program was evidenced during the flood and resulting damage in 2013. With the damage sustained it was necessary to hire contactors and mobilize equipment to remediate the damage. The commitment of RMI funding, in the 20122016 Resort Development Strategy, to reconstruct the Dogwood Park Sport Fishing Boat Launch allowed the City to coordinate that project with the riverbank remediation, resulting in significant savings on the Boat Launch project. This is a key example of

an initiative that couldn’t have been taken on if not for the funding made available through the RMI program. In addition to the Boat Launch reconstruction, significant progress was made to the Nordic trail network and other trails within and around Fernie. In addition the City has purchased a mobile stage and helped fund the Summer and Wednesday Socials, the Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam, and Griz Days. Art walks, concert series and winter shuttles as well as many other organizations and projects have benefited from RMI funding. Our goal is to increase capacity and the number of successful festivals and events so as to enhance both the resident and visitor experience. This program means a great deal to Fernie. Although mining is still the backbone

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of the community economy, tourism is also providing a great deal of benefit to the area. As part of the RMI group, Fernie contributes greatly to the B.C. economy, however the low population doesn’t support the tax base of infrastructure demand for increased tourism. The RMI funding leads to an escalation in private investments and a boost to employment through the increased number of visitors coming to our area. The RMI program is very important to Fernie, however, this funding is not totally secure. At present the province has committed to the funding until 2017. Local government leaders understand this concern and talks are underway as to how to best address this concern so that the benefits for all resort communities will continue in the future.


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Saying “I do” to Fernie tourism by Jennifer Cronin Free Press staff

Fernie has become a destination wedding spot. With breathtaking scenery, a wide range of venues for every budget, outrageously good food and the comfortable welcome of a small town, we have it all. The revenue generated in Fernie from a single wedding is hard to fathom and the spin off effects even more so. A bride and groom will pay for meals, accommodations, venue, and minister or officiate, photographers, flowers, musicians, hairdressers, estheticians, transportation and much more. A small wedding will have 30 guests and a large one may have up to 300, all of whom also need accommodation, meals, beverages and entertainment. There may not be one singular event that generates more revenue for our town, or impacts as many businesses and families. Often the groom and his groomsmen play a round of golf, go rafting, fishing or take a tour of the brewery the day before the wedding. The bridal party spends this day being pampered; getting their nails done, doing a test run for their make-up and hair, and of course, shopping. At the end of the day, the bridal party, family and guests will often meet up

Photo by Kyle Hamilton

for a rehearsal dinner. All of these things are a cost to the happy couple, and a benefit for Fernie. From the time the bride says, “I do,” to Fernie, the town is put under the spotlight. A trip will be planned to come and visit their chosen venue, perhaps have a food sampling, visit with their minister, meet their hairdresser, consult with the photographer etc. This trip is not without cost, and all of the monies spent support local business, and therefore our families. After the wedding is over, the entourage has gone home, and the dust settles the spin off effect will continue. Hopefully some of the guests will have

enjoyed their stay enough to return with their families to make their own memories. With upwards of 100 weddings in Fernie in a year, and over half of those being visitors, the benefit to the people of Fernie is staggering. Not many cities can boast of scenery and beauty that compares with what Fernie has to offer. The beauty, combined with the amenities and available activities will continue to bring happy couples to our area for many years to come. Meeting the people that make up the fiber of the tapestry that is Fernie, will bring visitors back time and time again!


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DESTINATION EVENTS:

The importance of events to tourism development

by Rebecca Hall Tourism Fernie It’s been 14 years since the first TransRockies event rolled through town, bringing with it mountain bikers from around the globe hungry for new and exciting trails. Fernie delivered, and in the relatively short amount of time since that first event, has become a mecca for travellers seeking out trail riding destinations. As per Dan Savage of the Fernie Transrockies Society: “Riding in the Moab Valley, it’s apparent how well-known Fernie is

as a great mountain biking location everyone you meet has either been or wants to come.” Success can be measured in incremental and return business. Transrockies events put our trail network on the map and brought thousands of international travellers to ride Fernie’s trails. They took the message home with them, and like a viral message on social media, the word spread quickly. The event was the catalyst for more and more events each year, and for summer 2015, Fernie is boasting a massive 65 scheduled mountain bike events including races, camps, and weekly rides for all ages from four to 64 (and beyond!) Businesses gain from events too - of a sampling of downtown businesses surveyed following 2014’s Fernie 3 event, over 55 per cent reported increased sales, and over 89 per cent felt the event had a positive impact on the local economy. Scott Gilmet, director of Sales & Marketing with Park Vacation Management says it’s not just about the event weekend alone: “Events are

a product that can be utilized to bring unique markets to town. Events like Wapiti and the Half Marathon appeal to a specific demographic. Even weddings bring groups of people who may not otherwise have planned a trip to Fernie. Once they’re here they are a captive audience; if Fernie shows them a great time, they will share that message with their friends and family.” Past events like the Taste of Fernie helped to put the local culinary scene on the map. Former head - organizer Kevin McIsaac feels the event helped raise awareness of, and interest in, Fernie as a dining destination: “We went from restaurants that were busy from Christmas to Easter, thanks to the ski season, to restaurants that are busier now in the summer than the winter. That transition was happening during the time that Taste of Fernie was happening. Towards the end, restaurants were simply too busy to spare the staff to attend the event. Fernie has long had great winter dining and more than our fair share of great restaurants. It’s great to see their patience and hard work rewarded with year-round support.”

Fernie 3

Kavu Event

Wapiti Film Festival

Reel Canadian Film Festival

Photo Tourism Fernie

Photo Olivier Gosselin

Photo Tourism Fernie

Photo Olivier Gosselin

Yamagoya was once a winter-only on-mountain option serving just a handful of customers each night; now people queue into the street for half an hour before it opens, almost every day. The Tandoor Restaurant and Grill is following suit. Formerly only available for a few months in winter, the Nepalese chefs now serve up authentic Indian cuisine yearround. That’s just two of many great restaurant success stories. To capture the destination event market, it’s important to send the word out well in advance. The success of these events and others like the Tears & Gears, Mountain Film Festival and the Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam has, in part, been due to a well planned marketing strategy- great branding, a clear message, updated websites, social media campaigns and a date published well in advance. Typically, long-haul visitors are in the planning stages around 9-12 months prior to travel. Having a calendar packed with the great events, Fernie is famous for is a great way to inspire visitors from every demographic and corne


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Weaving a small town tapestry by Katelyn Dingman Free Press staff

A mountain community nestled in the Southeastern corner of British Columbia, Fernie locals are spoiled by a beautiful landscape and a thriving arts and culture community. And the city, keen to share all that Fernie has to offer, welcomes visitors to the area. Tourism truly drives the economy here in Fernie. From guests checking in to the various mountain hotels to visitors filling up with gas, a lot of businesses rely on the tourism industry. Local Fas Gas franchise employee Tash Malek estimates that 60 per cent of their business comes from tourism during peak seasons. Tourists from Europe, the USA and even as far as New Zealand and Australia filter into Fernie during the winter months, embracing the powdery slopes and the mountain town lifestyle. But those tourists don’t solely spend their hard earned cash on the slopes. They head to the local grocers to stock up on food, and visit one of the many sport shops in town to pick up a new pair of ski gloves or goggles. Funds from tourism filter down in one way or another to nearly every business in the area. Whether they’re taking advantage of the wide



Photos Kyle Hamilton

variety of local restaurants or looking into renting a car from Practicar, many local businesses rely on tourism. Although the slopes offer a great winter escape for tourists during the winter months, the tourism industry is still very prevalent during the summer. Malek said that during the summer months, he estimates that 70 per cent of their clientele are tourists. Mainly heading into Fernie from Alberta and Saskatchewan, tourists soak up the great outdoors here in the Elk Valley, taking advantage of our beautiful campgrounds, hiking trails, rivers and biking trails. With so much to offer, it’s not hard for tourists to fall in love with our little mountain town. Fernie is home to world-renowned fly-fishing on the Elk River, and with dozens of fly-fishing guides, visitors are sure to have a great and memorable experience out on the river. Anglers can also pick up supplies from one of the local experts in town,

including Fernie Fly-fishing, the Elk River Guiding Company Ltd. and the Kootenay Fly Shop. And for those tourists looking to tune up their bicycle or grab some new hiking gear, The Guides Hut, Straight Line Bicycle & Skis, Gear Hub and Ski Base are all great places to visit. You can leave it to the professionals when it comes to getting the best gear in town. The Visitors Information Centre is also a great place to check out. With a variety of different hiking and biking maps, the Fernie Visitors Centre employees help you choose the best trail for your needs, whether that means showing you the long, yet breathtaking, Heiko’s Trail route or introducing you to an easier flat trail that’s suitable for the whole family. Weekend after weekend, Fernie is inundated with fresh faces and the community always seems to band together to ensure tourists have an unforgettable experience.

FROM GUIDING TO GEAR, ELK RIVER OFFERS IT ALL. We have professional fishing guides ready to take you down the river, as well as a year round fly shop, stocked with all the latest hunting and fishing gear!

Toll Free: 1.877.423.7239 Local: 250.423.7239 791 - 7th Avenue, Fernie www.elkriver.ca


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Don’t miss the BEST day of your summer!

the river

or

the river

Wild Mild

City Hall 501-3rd Ave., Box 190 Fernie BC, V0B 1M0 www.fernie.ca

Celebrating Tourism Fernie

Come for the winter, stay for the summer! Welcome to Fernie! We hope you enjoy Fernie’s unique festivities and all the wonderful amenities our small town has to offer! Fernie truly does have something for everyone!

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1.888.423.7226 or 250-423.7226 www.canyonraft.com

Stanford Hotels & Resort

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Guided rides Private lessons Demos available

250.423.3650 100 Riverside Way | Fernie BC | Toll Free 1-877-423-5600 | 250-423-5000 info@ferniestanfordresort.com | www.stanfordresorts.com

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SCENERY APPRECIATED Excerpts from The Free Press August 20, 1920

By J.F. Spalding ________________________________________ Those who were at the Chautauqua last evening heard what Tom Skeyhill had to say about the scenery around Fernie. For the benefit of those who were not there I am going to repeat it. “I did not come here to speak about your progressive and solid little town nor about your surroundings, but I cannot go away without expressing my admiration for the beauty of it all. The magnificence of your mountains surpass in all respects those at Banff, in fact in all my travels I have never seen such wonderful scenery as you have right here.” To give force to this statement he told us where he had travelled, through Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, the entire United States, the greater part of Canada and throughout Europe. This statement was entirely spontaneous on his part as I have not met him and do not believe he was prompted to say it by anyone else. He simply agrees with every tourist through here, that this section of the country is the scenic centre of America and that when it is better known thousands will come to see it, but as he said, working together and a proper community spirit by the people here, is the only way to accomplish anything. Hitherto the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. Have ignored this town entirely, the only place in which we appear in any of their literature

is in their time tables. I did think that when they opened up the tourist Camp at Lake Windermere they would at least mention Fernie as being in the line of route, but as usual nothing is said about us in their booklet, Cranbrook gets it, so last week I wrote a long letter to Mr. J. M. Gibbon their publicity agent at Montreal expressing the Fernie Board of Trade’s surprise at this omission and pointed out to him that a great number of the tourists going to that camp have to go through here and that the best scenery in the whole distance is between here and Elko. I went into the matter thoroughly and have hopes that they will be induced to give us the representation we are entitled to in their literature henceforth. I shall probably hear from him in the next few days and next week will publish my letter and his reply. Having had to spend an entire day this week with the directors of the Elk Valley Lumber Co., I took the opportunity of broaching the subject of the conversation of the timber around Island Lake, pointing out to them that we hoped to make the Lake one of the drawing cards to the town. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Liggeg made a trip up to the Lake and were impressed with its beauty and told me yesterday that they would be glad to co-operate with us and reserve the timber adjoining it. They are going into the matter and desire to have a survey made, but want us to state exactly what we want done.

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Celebrating tourism in fernie 2015  

The importance of tourism in the town of Fernie, B.C.

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