EDITORIAL: Walk softly, carry big club

You don’t need to be a curling fan to appreciate this week’s 2018 bellairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championships at Parksville Curling Club.

But it helps.

Certainly, the calibre of play is about as good as it gets in the sport. The top teams here this week boast players who have competed in Canadian championships and challenged for Olympic Berths. One member of Jim Cotter’s Vernon rink is unavailable because he is preparing to compete in this month’s Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

But the provincial championships, and other tournaments and events hosted by local athletic organizations have provided a key off-season boost to a local economy that may seem to be holding its breath in anticipation of our regular summer crowds.

Sport tourism has become a specific point of emphasis for the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association over the past decade, and executive director Blain Sepos said the work of local groups in organizing and hosting large-scale competition has led to a large-scale influx of visitors.

Even if they are here for only a short period, those visitors make a dent.

Looking at 2016 direct spending numbers, counting only visitors who stayed in accomodations with four rooms or more — i.e. hotels and resorts, for the most part — the Parksville Qualicum Beach region brought in $131 million in tourism dollars.

That included $18 million for entertainment and attractions, $19 million for local transportation, $29 million for retail sales, $30 million for accomodation and $32 million for food and beverage.

And an event of the calibre of this weekend’s provincial curling championships can only help to spread the word.

As Sepos pointed out, competitors in events of this type often bring along family members and even spectators. And when these visitors return home, the hope is they’ll share their experience with friends back home who did not make the trip. Not this time, at least.

A big hat-tip goes out to the tireless volunteers at Parksville Curling Club, who made it all possible.

For one week at least, we should all be curling fans.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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