July 22, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.
The Kamloops Visitor Information Center closed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but tourists shouldn’t expect it to reopen anytime soon.
Before the pandemic, Tourism Kamloops was already planning to make its operations mobile with the BOLD Street team, instead of waiting for tourists to come to the information center across from the Aberdeen Mall.
“On a typical day, people would come in and out, but the reality was that the majority would come in to use the bathroom or look at other destinations like Vancouver, Banff or Jasper,” said the CEO of Tourism Kamloops, Monica Dickinson.
The tourist hub used to receive about 1,500 “meaningful interactions” a year, she said, but Kamloops receives more than a million tourists a year. They switched to the mobile street team with the aim of meeting more tourists, not because of the pandemic.
Prior to July 2020, the tourist information center was permanently closed, but Dickinson said the organization had not ruled out a new physical location.
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Last year, Tourism Kamloops launched a pilot project to accommodate water sports rentals at the now-demolished Riverside Park concession stand. The organization has also stationed its street team there.
Dickinson was excited about the project and there was anticipation in the community, but it was largely unsuccessful, which she blamed on the heated dome and smoke from the wildfires.
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The old concession stand was demolished as part of the City’s $5 million construction project at Central Waterfront Park. There are plans for a new restroom and changing room, but none at this time to replace the concession stand site.
Dickinson did not say if Tourism Kamloops would consider creating a new information center at Riverside Park, but she will look to the city for her plans next summer.
“We have been discussing whether this location should be next summer,” she said when asked about reviving the water sports rental program.
Dickinson also said the organization will be researching new locations for the next potential information center. Asked about Riverside Park, she said she was “open to the possibility”.
“For this season, the BOLD Street team is our priority,” she said.
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The Street Crew can be found with their trademark Jeep Wrangler at trailheads, parks and local businesses, the Tourist Information Center remains closed to the public and simply used as office space.
The information center at the corner of Hillside Drive and Highway 1 always gets a lot of traffic, Dickinson said, because there’s a dumpster for RVs and EV charging stations. Travelers will often check the door to public restrooms and find that it is locked.
She doesn’t mind as she prefers to send tourists to find public restrooms near local businesses, like the Aberdeen Mall across the street.
In the Okanagan, Tourism Kelowna’s information center once stood along Harvey Avenue, attracting primarily vehicular traffic, until a new center was built downtown along the waterfront. sea.
It was the subject of controversy and debate during the public hearing process in 2017, but was eventually passed and now sits in a more pedestrian-friendly area near Stuart Park.
Since Kelowna’s information center moved to Stuart Park, it has jumped to 73,000 visitors already so far this year, compared to 17,000 annually at its Harvey Avenue location, according to Tourism’s Carla Bechard. Kelowna.
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