Tourism generated about $22 million for the Clearwater and Wells Gray Country (Area A) economies during 2011.
That’s what Tourism Wells Gray tourism and marketing manager Brad Bradbury told Clearwater and District Chamber of Commerce during a presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
“Over the past few years people have been coming more often and spending more dollars,” he said. “However, they are not staying longer, which is too bad.”
An important new tool that Tourism Wells Gray has in its efforts to promote the area is the EQ system developed by Environics Research Group for Canadian Tourism Commission.
EQ stands for Explorer Quotient and refers to nine major explorer types identified, Bradbury explained.
Of the nine, two or three are of particular interest to this area.
The authentic experiencers like to get off the beaten path and find hidden gems. They are not fussy about where they stay and would be perfectly happy to go up on the Trophies and camp. On average, 65 per cent return to an area after visiting.
Cultural explorers are interested in such things as First Nations, logging history and the lives of the pioneers. They are probably happiest staying in a bed-and-breakfast or motel. Their accommodation needs to be clean and the people friendly, preferably family run. On average, 42 per cent return.
Local tourism marketing should concentrate 65 to 70 per cent on reaching those two groups, Bradford felt.
Things like logging tours and the series of talks being put on as part of Wells Gray Heritage Year would be great attractions for visitors.
Also of interest for marketing are the free spirits. These want to go whitewater rafting or hut-to-hut skiing, which we can offer here. They also want first class accommodation and meals with high end wines, something Clearwater and area does not have much of. Possibly they could be sold circle tours that include adventures in Clearwater with wine tours in the Okanagan, Bradbury felt.
Travellers from China, Korea and Japan often do not easily fit into the nine EQ categories, which is important, because this area is seeing more and more of them.
Bradbury recalled an occasion several years earlier when the hotel he was working at was advised that a number of buses full of tourists were on their way. They prepared several table-loads of sandwiches. Unfortunately, the tourists were all Japanese and had never seen sandwiches before. The snacks were left untouched.
It isn’t uncommon for 50 buses a day to stop at Spahats Falls during August, Merlin Blackwell told the meeting. The majority of those on board are Korean, but their experience locally is confined to walking from the bus to the falls and back.
Bradbury suggested that a wooden rotunda be built, capable of holding 60 people. Such a structure would fit in with the cultural expectations of Asian visitors and would encourage them to stay for lunch.