Tourism Golden is always hard at work to promote Golden and the surrounding area, funnelling visitors in from the highway and around Canada.
Throughout the year, Tourism Golden is working on multiple initiatives that all lend a hand to increased tourism in Golden. For nearly a decade, tourism numbers have continued to climb.
The new location of the visitor information centre on the Trans-Canada Highway has provided fresh opportunities for Tourism Golden.
Visitor Information Centre
This season, staff at the visitor information centre on the Trans-Canada Highway have directly engaged with 5,200 visitors, and counting.
This number translates to roughly 127 direct conversations with visitors per day. From the total, staff have advised more than 800 visitors about dining in Golden, 500 about shopping, and have directed 750 people to the wolf centre, and more than 1,000 to Kicking Horse Mountain resort.
“It reminds me how important a face to face interaction is,” said Tourism Golden executive director Joanne Sweeting. “It is highly influential at the time and in the future.”
This year marks the first time volunteer ambassadors will be out and about in the community.
Donning a Tourism Golden ambassador vest, these volunteers will be available in popular areas to help direct tourists and answer questions.
“They are there if visitors or anyone wants to ask them questions,” Sweeting said.
Each Saturday, the visitor information centre hosts a “Saturday Showcase,” where different groups from the community set up and talk about things like wildlife, the bear refuge on Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Wildsafe BC, WildSight Golden, and even the Golden Spinners, a group of knitters and seamsters.
The Saturday Showcases began in July, and continue the educational trend the visitor information centre began last year. Community organizations are invited to contact Tourism Golden if they would like to participate in the showcases.
“It’s nice to have engagements, not just from visitors,” said Sweeting, adding that the showcases also bring out locals who want to learn more in their own community.
There are many areas surrounding Golden that are accessible via motorized vehicle, and many that are only accessible by foot.
Knowing where these areas are is important to protecting vulnerable habitats and avoiding unwanted run-ins with conservation authorities. Tourism Golden has recreated its large backcountry maps, with the assistance of the Golden Backcountry Recreation Access Plan (GBRAP).
“It is a big new refresh,” Sweeting said.
Businesses who wish to display the updated maps can contact Tourism Golden to receive a copy.
While there is a huge shift to digital information, Sweeting says that physical print copies are still highly used by tourists. At locations where the maps have been distributed, they are quickly being picked up and used.
“Print is by no means dead, and we see that every day at the visitor centre,” Sweeting said. “They’re very worthwhile in investing in and refreshing and keeping up to date.”
The map outlines motorized and non-motorized areas, and protected habitats.
From the visitor information centre, Tourism Golden is selling park passes for access to the five national parks that surround Golden.
The location has become a one-stop-shop for access to a number of activities.
“We started selling park passes last year, and it was a runaway success,” Sweeting said.
In addition, the visitor centre also sells hard copy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort sightseeing tickets.
“It’s an interesting development we didn’t foresee in our vision for the visitor centre,” she added.
Tourism Golden is also selling some branded materials as a trial, including buffs, bear bells, and more.
Promoting businesses and activities is a large part of what Tourism Golden does.
Because of this, they are offering a photo opportunity for businesses who want to get involved. The photo shoot is half paid for by Tourism Golden, and the business is responsible for the other half of the cost.
It has been popular with accommodators, lodges, cabins, Kicking Horse Culture, and more.
“We will absolutely repeat that again,” Sweeting said.
Advertising across Canada
Last year, Tourism Golden jumped on an opportunity to advertise the town and it’s winter playground at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The large format ski messaging in high-profile locations captured a significant number of visitors following the advertising. As a result, Tourism Golden is going to advertise once again at the Toronto International Film Festival, on Black Friday, Christmas, and New Years.
During the Calgary Stampede Tourism Golden also advertised on CTV Calgary, encouraging people to take a trip to the mountains following their festivities.
Tourism Golden continues to advertise in their usual print publications. This year, they will launch a French language website, and will continue to expand the languages they offer online.
Mobile web users are up by 88 per cent this year, which could be a direct correlation to the new mobile-friendly web page Tourism Golden has launched. Website visitors have increased by 40 per cent overall.
Tourism Golden applied for funding to conduct a study of the impact of labour shortages across the community.
“There will be all sorts of things that will be revealed,” Sweeting said.
The study will most likely begin in the fall, after the busy tourist season. Sweeting says she expects some businesses will be feeling the pressure from employees leaving, and will have an understanding of their own shortages from the busy summer season.
Sweeting believes the study will help Tourism Golden understand the issues surrounding labour shortages more, delving into what causes them, and how to go about recruiting more employees.
“I feel it will be a good solid piece that many community resources can use,” she said.
There are many topics Tourism Golden has interest in. Often, they help advocate for their stakeholders when an issue is affecting them.
In the past year, Tourism Golden has hoped to find a solution to the exponential growth of short term rentals.
“We recognize that short term rentals are a good thing. There’s a demand for them from the visitors,” Sweeting said, adding that some people enjoy staying in residential neighbourhoods. “There is a tipping point.”
While staying in a community and enjoying the homey atmosphere of an apartment or house can be appealing for visitors, there are a few downsides to vacationing that way. Traditional accommodators, like hotels, have expressed concern over the growing number of short term rentals in the town. If the numbers continue to rise, Sweeting says the anchor businesses like hotels could be undermined.
The Town of Golden is working on a bylaw plan for short term rentals, which includes having the owner of the property living in the rental. Town staff and council continue to work toward resolving short term rental bylaws.
Tourism Golden also acts as one of the main interest groups regarding the Kicking Horse Canyon project, which would see the Trans-Canada closed east of Golden for periods of time during construction. Sweeting says they have expressed the importance of not closing the highway during peak tourism seasons.
“We have a good, consistent conversation about it, and it provides reassurance,” Sweeting said.