City of Fernie welcome sign. (File photo)

City of Fernie welcome sign. (File photo)

2020 not as bad as predicted, more of the same in 2021 (for now): Tourism Fernie

Hotel revenues were down by 26 percent last year, but numbers were expected to be twice as bad originally

The tourism numbers for 2020 weren’t a complete disaster, as it turns out, with the numbers in Fernie being about half as bad as originally predicted.

Hotel accommodation revenues were down 26 percent last year compared with 2019 – though the tourism industry had been expecting those numbers to be between 40 and 50 percent down.

“Summer was super strong for us, and we were able to save some if the Fall season as well which was very positive, and we continue to adjust our forecasts as we go,” said Jikke Gyorki of Tourism Fernie.

Tourism Fernie calculates how well the accommodation sector is going by the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) – or ‘hotel tax’ – which is a three percent tax on short-term accommodation in participating areas around B.C.

Due to lags in reporting, the numbers for the final months of 2020 have only just come in. Together with the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) visitor numbers, the tourism sector in Fernie can paint an imprecise but telling picture of how things went in the year of the pandemic.

Numbers last Winter were good, while Spring was a wash, Summer wasn’t as bad as predicted and Fall was a pleasant surprise for the industry, with tourism dollars following the waxing and waning of pandemic numbers, and limits on travel.

Gyorki said that thanks to a bounce in tourism numbers through Summer, and continuous corporate travel, Fernie was able to do a lot better than predicted – as did many other communities with similar tourism profiles.

“Any community that’s like Fernie did similar in terms of doing a lot better than they initially expected to do, because it became quite evident early on that if travel was going to open, there was going to be pent up demand, people were going to go where there was wide open spaces, fewer faces and get outside. All of the Kootenay region, for the most part, saw that the numbers were not down to the level they were expecting.”

The numbers B.C.-wide were pulled down mostly by the big cities, said Gyorki, with some municipalities down by around 80 percent.

While accommodators didn’t do as poorly as predicted, other sectors of the industry suffered greatly from the closed border with the U.S.

Looking ahead, the sector is predicting a summer not unlike 2020 for this year – though with the COVID-19 vaccination program seemingly ramping up, there was some optimism creeping in.

Gyorki said that changes to the vaccination program moving faster were hard not to get excited about, but the tourism industry had become used to big changes overnight.

“I think we have to continue to be cautious obviously and not get ahead of ourselves – its still going to take a bit of time to get through this – but so far all the numbers are positive, and looking very optimistic for having a good summer.”

Tourism Fernie will be hosting it’s AGM next Wednesday (March 31) where attendees will get an industry update for the sector. To attend, email Tourism Fernie for details.

READ MORE: By the numbers: Fernie’s Visitor Information Centre holds the line through 2020
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Michel-Natal-Sparwood Heritage Society runs a museum that was established to display the heritage of the "no-longer towns" of Michel and Natal, and the Elk Valley Area. Photo Submitted/Monica Beranek, Artifact Curator
Sparwood to support museum financially through to December 2022

The district will provide financial support for the museum to hire a full-time director

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Most Read