The Christina Lake Welcome Centre has tracked a substantial increase of visitors to the centre in 2013.
In 2012, the welcome tracked a total of 850 visitors for the months of January, February and March, by recording every foot passenger that came through the building.
In 2013, that number grew 373.4 per cent for the same period to a total number of 4,024 visitors.
Some of that increase can be attributed to the amount of open facility hours.
“We are open a lot more than we were last year, operations are much smoother and more consistent,” said Wendy Darbyshire, president of the Christina Lake Tourism Society.
The network program manager for Tourism British Columbia, Nancy Frederickson, said the Christina Lake Welcome Centre has a lot of attractants, making visitation numbers so high.
“Christina Lake is in a good location, they are on the highway and they have an arts centre, so people are coming in for a lot of things,” she said.
Sheldon Weigel, president of the Christina Lake Chamber of Commerce, agreed that there are a lot of things bringing people into the facility and everyone gets counted as a visitor.
“Whether (people) come in to the kiosk to ask information, to come in and use the bathroom, to go into the gallery, to go straight to the bistro or go straight down the hall to the (Christina Lake) Stewardship Society, wherever they happen to go, we count them,” he said.
The centre is registered as an entry-level visitor’s information booth, through Tourism BC, but they are not a full status visitor centre, which means they can’t use the trademark blue and yellow information logo, they don’t have highway signage and they are not recognized on tourism maps.
The welcome centre wants to become a full status visitor centre and it is in the process of completing a financial plan before it applies to Tourism BC. Darbyshire says travelers will be more aware of the welcome centre if it gets registered as a full status visitor information centre.
“Signage is a big thing, because once you get that big ‘I’ on the highway, people are so in tune with that visitor information marking,” she said. “We would also get recognized on maps and there is a little bit of funding available with that as well.”
Comparing visitation numbers between the Christina Lake Welcome Centre and the Grand Forks Visitors Centre, Grand Forks’ numbers are substantially lower.
In 2013, the city’s information centre recorded a total of 310 visitors for the months of January, February and March, which is up by 5.8 per cent over last year’s total of 293.
However, the manager of the visitor centre, Dawsha Hunt, said she doesn’t count everyone that comes through the building, which also holds an art gallery, a gift shop, a picture museum and washrooms.
Hunt said the total amount of people that come through the building is quite substantial.
“We have door counters, which count a different story. The numbers for the building last year were about 30,000, but I can’t validly count every one of those because I don’t talk to them yet they are technically still visitors,” she said.
The Christina Lake Welcome Centre recorded over 17,000 visitors last year.