City saw more than 24,000 visitors here in 2011

Chamber of Commerce and Craig Heritage Museum share common property

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and neighbouring Craig Heritage Museum share a common border.

After an annual update and housekeeping items, Parksville council renewed the visitor centre contract with the chamber.

Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce president Rudi Widdershoven and executive director Kim Burden gave an annual report at the Dec. 19 council meeting.

Widdershoven told council the visitor’s centre at the east end of town had just under 24,000 visitors in the first 11 months of 2011.

Of the 12,866 people or groups they got a place of origin for, the most common area by a large margin was B.C. excluding locals, accounting for over 4,800.

Locals were the second largest group, at 2,600, followed by Alberta (1,800), Europe (1,450) and the rest of Canada (1,100).

Visitors from the U.S. and Mexico accounted for a grand total of just 819, led by 237 from Washington state and 112 from California.

They highlighted new features this year like a wedding guide distributed across the country, restaurant and circle tour guides and Karma Coffee kiosk. They also switched to mostly selling goods on consignment, reducing their risk and overhead.

Burden said the coffee kiosk helped enhance the visitor experience, but wasn’t great for them as a business venture.

He explained that since the chamber’s fee for service from the city dropped from $73,000 to $40,000 a couple years ago, including canceling the economic development office, they have focused on revenue generation, which he said has gone up by about $15,000 over the last two years.

Coun. Bill Neufeld asked if the vote could be delayed until they had 2011 year end numbers to compare to previous years but was convinced it would put the chamber in a difficult position.

Council first adopted the parkland exchange bylaw — passed in the Nov. 19 municipal election — and then unanimously voted to renew the fee for service agreement for the chamber to run the visitor’s centre for $41,200 in 2012.


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