The South Cariboo is gearing up for a busy tourist season.
Julie Gilmore, visitor service coordinator at South Cariboo Visitor Centre, said she anticipates a strong season ahead after seeing a lot of interest in the region at a recent Outdoor Show in Chilliwack.
The interest came from new people coming to the area, she said, as well as those who “ended up here but were unable to explore” due to last year’s wildfires.
“They’re very interested in the whole South Cariboo region,” Gilmore said. “They really enjoy the activities, the lakes. Or they want to get into mountain biking. I think we’re going to get into a strong tourism season. Lots of events are coming, and everything is starting to open up.”
Events like the Mud Racing at 100 Mile Horsepower Ranch, Hot July Nights and a concert series in Centennial Park this summer are huge draws, she said.
Farmers’ and craft markets are also scheduled across the region in 100 Mile House, Forest Grove, 108 Mile Heritage site and two in the Interlakes. The 108 Mile Community Association is planning a 108 Fair, featuring a market, open houses at the South Cariboo Regional Airport and 108 Volunteer Fire Department, games at Mile 108 Elementary and tours of the 108 Mile Heritage Site next month.
Resorts are also seeing renewed interest after two years of the pandemic. South Point Resort in Canim Lake is booked solid in July and August, while the shoulder season months – May, June and September – are already at 50 per cent, said owner Leanne Sallenback.
At Hathaway Lake Resort, Emily McTaggart said bookings were up six per cent over last March and it is about 40 per cent booked so far. They expect to welcome their first guests in about a month.
“We had a good turnout last year if it hadn’t been for the fires,” McTaggart said. “Hopefully the fires won’t affect us too much this year.”
Irene Meili, Chair of the Fishing Highway 24 Tourist Association and owner of Fawn Lake Resort, said most resorts are preparing for a good season.
“We’re getting a lot of people from the Coast inquiring about coming for the first time so that’s cool,” she said, noting people are also booking for two to three days stays rather than the usual week-long vacations. “It seems like a different focus on travelling, exploring the area and the province.”
A new map of the Land of Hidden waters – stretching from the South Cariboo to North Thompson and Kamloops – as well as a backroads fishing map of the area are being printed this year, which Meili hopes will also encourage more people to explore the region.