Tourism has made a comeback in the South Cariboo.
“The season has been doing really good. Compared to our total visitor’s numbers from January, February and March, that quarter we were up by 144.7 per cent. The next quarter, we were up again by 26.1 and of course, we’re going into the third quarter, where we’re standing I can see we are tremendously standing from where we were last year,” said Julie Gilmore, the South Cariboo Tourism Centre’s manager.
According to the centre’s report, 4,950 visitors came through the centre in the first quarter of 2019. In 2018, it was 2,023. In the second quarter, 9,864 visitors versus 7,824. The only quarter 2018 has more visitors is the third one so far, with 10,271, but it’s also in the middle of 2019’s quarter and 7,717 people have been recorded.
“Tourism has definitely made a comeback this year, and the number of people coming in. We’ve seen a lot of internationals returning. I just think that now people are feeling a little bit more secure in the area with no smoke and wildfires. The weather has been great for them so they’re coming in and staying a little longer and not feeling so insecure and scared.”
Gilmore said most of the international come from Europe, particularly from Germany and Switzerland. A few from the Netherlands too.
“We’ve seen a lot of Australians this year, more than we have in the past,” said Gilmore.
While the centre doesn’t keep any kind of record about the age of the visitors, Gilmore said from what she has seen, most visitors are from the 50-70 range.
A lot of people are stopping while either driving to Alaska or the Yukon, or back.
She attributed the rise of visitors to word getting out about the backcountry, as well as the events and multiple outdoorsy activities available.
“The tourists really like to know what things they can do in the area. They like our horseback riding, they like their kayaking/canoeing, and the mountain bike trails seem to be a big question this year as well. Those kinds of things.”
She also mentioned the interesting events such as the South Cariboo Garlic Festival, Hot July Nights, and new addition, the Parks Alive series, has garnered a lot of attention.
Gilmore said people are hearing about these events from social media, including the centre’s Facebook page, and get interested in coming.
“And of course, they come in and find out we even have more events and so they’re so excited and they stay,” she said. “The rodeos, of course, Little Britches, Interlakes Rodeo – all of that is really popular. The Farmers’ Market is becoming very popular. A lot of people that are travelling through on Fridays’ come in just to stop and see out Farmers’ Market.”