The B.C. minister of tourism and arts and culture is finishing up a whirlwind three-day tour in the East Kootenay today.
Lisa Beare kicked off her time in Fernie, spent a day in Invermere, and is concluding her tour in Cranbrook / Kimberley area today before flying back to the coast. The goal was to inspect a number of the communities that receive Resort Municipality Initiative funding to see how the investments in tourism are helping the communities, as well as visit a number of tourism operators.
“It’s been really fascinating to see how every area of my portfolio is intersecting: the arts, the culture, the sports, the multiculturalism,” shares Ms. Beare, commenting that the First Nations cultural offerings are “phenomenal” in this region.
“Indigenous culture seems to be woven through every bit of tourism experience in this area. And when visitors come to B.C., they’re looking for authentic indigenous experiences,” says Ms. Beare. “And what better place to come for that than the Kootenays?”
International visitors especially are coming more and more for authentic experiences, the provincial minister reflects.
In Fernie, Ms. Beare did an art and history tour, saw the museum, and sampled local chocolate and gelato from Beanpod. In Invermere, she visited Panorama Mountain Resort, Kicking Horse Cafe, downtown Invermere and Pynelogs Cultural Centre & Art Gallery. In Cranbrook, she attended Fort Steele, the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, and St. Eugene’s. Following her lunchtime interview via phone with a reporter, Ms. Beare planned to walk through the main tourist centre of Kimberley before flying home.
“It’s always is a whirlwhind these trips, but I’m seeing exactly what is available in the valley, and how visitors are able to create a memorable roadtrip story and experience as they go through,” she commented. “Everyone thinks golf and skiing when they come to the Kootenays, but it’s everything else: it’s the river rafting, it’s the heli skiing, it’s the hiking and trails, and the culinary tours. There’s great opportunities through the Valley.”
She says the future is bright for Kootenays tourism, and for the province as a whole.
“Tourism is booming in BC. It’s a $17 billion industry, and creates 133,000 jobs. It’s a top economic driver in the province, and it’s continuing to grow, Visitors love coming to British Columbia: we have great unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, and we’re happy to showcase that.”