Tourism Golden has seen its ninth consecutive year of substantial growth in the community, and this is partly because of partnerships with stakeholders, and a great team working together on a variety of aspects to promote Golden to visitors.
The 2018 annual report highlights explained the ninth consecutive year of growth, a seven per cent increase in total revenues, a seven per cent increase in Municipal and Regional District Tax Program (MRDT), a $100,000 Google search grant ad, and eight per cent increase in accommodation occupancy, a 13 per cent increase in average daily rates (ADR), growth in the winter, spring, and fall seasons, and an average length of stay in the summer nights increasing to 2.8 nights, and 3.2 nights in the winter.
Tourism Golden has collaborated stakeholders and destination developments in the area, which has led to goals regarding the Highway 1 Field to Kamloops and Sun Peaks construction projects, and development with Kootenay Rockies Regional.
Tourism Golden also cooperated with the Golden Snowmobile Club to complete an economic impact study, and worked with Kootenay Dirt, Kootenay XC, Sled Kootenay, and Fishing BC on regional and activity sector marketing consortiums.
Working with the community is one of the things Tourism Golden focuses their efforts on. In 2018, they advocated for short term rental legislation, and looked to address labour shortages in Town.
The shoulder months, spring and fall, have been a major focus for Tourism Golden.
Last year, tourism sectors across the province felt the pressure from disrupters like the wildfires and smoke, pipeline disputes, and labour shortages.
“The wildfires were definitely one of those. We saw a drop in accommodations in August” said Tourism Golden executive director Joanne Sweeting. “The shoulder season months, occupancies and revenues were up. That lead to an increase in occupancy and revenues for the year.”
Some Alberta tourists decided to forgo their B.C. vacations over political disputes between the provinces. In Tourism Golden’s annual report, one regular guest is quoted, stating they would not return to B.C. for their annual golf trip, wanting to keep their money out of the province.
“I don’t think it was as big of a disrupter for us,” Sweeting said. “It was a small percentage, but nevertheless, you can see how things way beyond our control can have an impact.”
Despite these factors, an average of $596 was spent in Golden by each visitor party in the summer of 2017, averaging a stay duration of 2.8 nights. In the winter, visitor parties spent an average of $1,481 in Golden, with an average stay of 3.2 nights.
The Freeride World Tour was hosted at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for the past two years, with Tourism Golden at the helm of organizing and hosting most events and promoting the competitions.
“We had a really big learning curve, but it showed us tat yes, we can host events like that,” Sweeting said.
In September Golden is also host to the Golden Ultra, a running race that brings around 600 contestants into town.
““She created a very special reason to visit Golden in the third weekend of September,” Joanne said about organizer Magi Scallion, and the increase in numbers visiting during the shoulder season.
Tourists who visit Golden go on to talk about their trip online. With the Tourism Sentiment Index tool, Tourism Golden is able to access each time Golden is mentioned online, compiling the data to guide strategic planning, marketing, and destination development.
The Tourism Sentiment Score measures Golden’s ability to generate positive word of mouth about its tourism offering. The score focuses solely on online conversations that reference or affect a potential traveller’s perceptions of the destination. Golden’s sentiment score is 54, which means 54 per cent of comments promote Golden as a destination, which shows the tourism industry is having an impact on the brand of the destination as a whole.
Core conversation drivers included nature viewing, hiking and rock climbing, and skiing and snowboarding. Potential growth opportunities include cycling and biking, skiing and snowboarding, and weddings. Underperforming assets listed restaurants and breweries and pubs.
Although restaurants and breweries and pubs were listed as underperforming, Sweeting says they are really just opportunity. They are listed there because Golden only has a few of each, and only one brewery, which doesn’t cause much feedback from visitors in comparison to town that have multiples.
New this year, Tourism Golden is beginning its ambassador program in partnership with Golden Community Development, and College of the Rockies.
Volunteers will enjoy meeting new people, talking about great things to do in Golden, have fun, and be outside. Tourism Golden is asking anyone who has four hours a month to contribute to attend one of the training sessions on June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m. to learn more about how to get involved. Visit the Ambassador Training event on Facebook for more information, or go to www.tourismgolden.com/ambassador.