Last year saw the second highest hotel tax revenues return to Chilliwack since they started collecting them in 2000.
The $150,801 earned in hotel tax revenues for 2012 represents a percentage of more than $7.5 million in hotel and motel room stays, said Brian Coombes, executive director of Tourism Chilliwack in his 2012 Year in Review report to city council.
“That’s not bad considering the total number of rooms Chilliwack has,” he said. It’s a reflection of room rates being competently managed, as well as occupancy rates, Coombes added.
When the Hampton Inn opens, Chilliwack will have 600 hotel rooms.
The highest hotel tax revenues ever were earned in 2010, at $154,453, in part due to the Winter Olympics.
Tourism Chilliwack concentrates on marketing Chilliwack as a destination, on providing visitor services as well an entrepreneurial mindset, and partnership development.
Coun. Lum asked Coombes what’s in store for Chilliwack in terms of summer tourist visitations.
Coombes confirmed that he expects the “staycation” trend to continue with the high price of gas, where travellers tend to stick close to home for day-trips and getaways.
“I think we’ll see that continue,” he said.
Hotel industry reps found the climate very challenging in rebuilding business since the economy crashed in 2008.
“We’re so weather dependent, it’s a huge part of what the overall year looks like,” Coombes said. “If the weather cooperates and we get a long stretch of sunshine, because we’re a destination close to major markets, we can become that last-minute getaway destination.”
Regardless of weather, there are some who will always seek out Chilliwack as an affordable vacation spot.
“Luckily we don’t rely as much as other cities on international visitations. Our main focus is regional, those who are looking for holidays close to home. So in that sense I think it will be similar to last year.”
Sport fishing continues to be the number one draw to Chilliwack, and Cultus Lake
A new website is in the works for next month, which is timely since it’s the “foundation” of all of Tourism Chilliwack’s marketing, he said. They have a new, modernized logo and tagline, Where Events Happen.
Fifty-four large-scale events were presented at Heritage Park in 2012, and 34 smaller events, with 165,000 people either attending or participating.
Tourism Chilliwack also working on a multi-year strategic planning process, and were able to contribute $125,642.54 back to the city to go into a building reserve fund for Chilliwack Heritage Park capital improvements.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz said in the wake of that contribution, “The city feels reassured that this was the best choice,” in terms of facility operations management.
“Tourism Chilliwack continues to demonstrate its success in marketing our community and the Heritage Park facility. The excellent leadership of the board and the staff team serves our community well,” she said.