Tourism Chilliwack on track for strongest year ever

The revitalization of a downtown Chilliwack hotel last year had a remarkable impact on Tourism Chilliwack's bottom line.

The revitalization of a downtown Chilliwack hotel last year had a remarkable impact on Tourism Chilliwack’s bottom line.

Projected year-end figures for 2010 show that Tourism Chilliwack is on par to match its strongest financial year ever, mainly as a result of increased hotel tax revenues.

“There’s been a strong recovery from the downturn we saw last year,” said Brian Coombes, executive director for Tourism Chilliwack.

Coombes made his annual report to city council recently, stating if the final figures meet expectations, they’d be talking about the highest revenue year since they started collecting data several years ago.

“It shows the positive impact the Coast Chilliwack Hotel has been having,” Coombes told The Progress. “They’ve put a stop to some of the leakage of traffic to Abbotsford facilities and have attracted back some of the corporate clientele.”

Tourism Chilliwack’s share of hotel tax came to $146,418 in 2010, from the larger pot of about $7 million in hotel and motel revenues. By comparison it was only $128,385 in 2009, based on about $6 million in overall hotel revenues.

“So that’s almost a million dollar increase,” Coombes said.

Two per cent of hotel tax revenues are allocated for marketing purposes and Tourism Chilliwack is on the receiving end of those funds. An incorporated entity owned by the City of Chilliwack, Tourism Chilliwack is responsible for destination marketing, visitor services, partnership development and more.

Coun. Chuck Stam, who is also a member of the Tourism Chilliwack board, credits the hard work of Coast Chilliwack to attract some of that corporate traffic back to Chilliwack.

“With the Coast conveniently located downtown, it’s resurrected some of that business, and shown it can be a flagship operation,” he said.

Members of the Tourism Chilliwack board recently completed a strategic planning review with an updated action plan for 2011-2013.

“The focus for Tourism Chilliwack is to provide value to the community by offering programs and services that leverage the investment and expertise of our marketing partners and the City of Chilliwack,” he added.

City funding accounts for about 22 per cent of the budget, and provides the tourism organization with $130,000 annually to operate the Visitors Centre through a management agreement. The Flag Shop revenue was $74,000.

“The board has focused hard on what can be done to remain relevant, and ways of adding value for businesses as well as taxpayers.”

Fostering the entrepreneurial approach will be key.

“For that reason it is very important that we continue to explore opportunities that enable us to create the financial resources necessary to develop targeted marketing campaigns such as the Circle Farm Tour program and Fish Chilliwack for example,” said Coombes. “Both of those programs are co-operative in nature and benefit all partners by combining their contributions for greater impact and reach.”

For example, with a $4,000 investment in the Circle Farm Tour program, they can leverage $35,000 worth of marketing.

“We will continue with this approach in 2011,” he said.