Tourism Fernie hosts tenth annual general meeting

On Thursday, March 16, Tourism Fernie held their 10th Annual General Meeting, celebrating a decade of growth and success.

On Thursday, March 16, Tourism Fernie held their 10th Annual General Meeting, celebrating a decade of growth and success.

Honoured guest speaker Gary Ross was welcomed to the microphone by Mike McPhee, whose presentation was followed by members of the board, who summarized a year in review.

Ross, the former editor of three major Canadian magazines turned communications specialist, was welcomed with a warm applause. He outlined some ways Tourism Fernie and its partners can modify their communication tactic to not only gain a wider audience, but also keep them interested through useful, entertaining storytelling.

He started with the basics: how to tell a story through different formats. Next, he stressed the importance of telling a story, rather than selling a product.

“People want to be told, not sold,” he said.

Although print journalism isn’t always considered to be on the same spectrum as tourism advertising, Ross highlighted some important elements from the world of print which can also be instrumental in telling a story. One of these tools, was the ability to be plainspoken.

“The more succinct your message, the more likely it will be read, understood and acted upon,” he said.

Ross spoke to the format switch between desktop users and mobile users. He explained that knowing your audience can change the way you display information, so design accordingly.

He also encouraged those in communications to be smart, and think about the future of video. With YouTube sweeping the market of success, Ross believes not some, but all, should be adding this, if not switching to, this format of communication.

Gerald Price of GPI Chartered Professional Accountants next reviewed the audited statement, noting the 11 per cent gain in membership over the past year, which was received with much approval.

The most significant financial initiative this past fiscal term was the renewal of the Municipal and Regional District two per cent Hotel Tax for another five year term. This represents 60 per cent of Tourism Fernie’s revenue, making it their prime funding source. This was given approval from the City of Fernie and the Regional District of East Kootenay.

Tourism Fernie is reported as being financially strong.

Through informational graphs, 2013 was reported as being a strong year for profit, and 2015 being extremely low. This was due mainly to the lack of snowfall in the 2015 winter season.

Ascent To Power, A Tale of a Ski Town, was noted as a very proud piece of production for the tourism organization. After two years of production, the 23 minute ski film about Fernie was featured on TV networks in the USA, and it was also picked up on networks in the UK, Australia, and around the globe through BCI Syndication, Garage Entertainment and The Ski Channel. The film was also shown at the Vogue Theatre on October 20, the Toronto Ski Show in partnership with S-Media, the Amsterdam Freeride Film Festival and the Belgium Freeride Film Festival.

The film reached an estimated 200 million households, and the commercial reached an estimated 300 million households in the USA alone.

The website reached 181,896, up 26 per cent from last year. The #ferniestoke hashtag was used 17,577 plus times.

Instagram gained 7,129, up 60 per cent since last year. Board members saluted social media coordinator and staff photographer, Vince Mo, for his dedication to this online communication.

The number of annual visitors to Fernie was 307,000. Average length of stay for overnight visitors is 3.4 nights. Second homeowners were acclaimed as a key segment of Fernie’s tourism economy and represent 30 per cent of all residential properties in town, and almost 50 per cent in surrounding Fernie, including the resort. Fernie’s two per cent Hotel Tax and RMI Funding has contributed $6 million towards tourism marketing, programs, and infrastructure since 2007. 93 per cent of Fernie businesses surveyed in the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) report indicated that tourism was the economic driver with the greatest growth potential.

Next, came the elections for new board members.

Veronique Row was voted in as director of accommodation less than 30 rooms, after a voting tie, decided by coin flip. Corien Sieders was voted in as director of accommodation and rental management more than 30 rooms, also a tie which was decided by a coin flip. Kyle Hamilton was voted in as Tourism Fernie director at large. Hamilton lost last year to a tie vote, but came out on top this year. Reto Barrington was elected by acclaimation, as Attraction, activities and transportation director.

Some members raised their hands in dispute of the form of decision making, with more than half of the board of directors decided by the flip of a coin. McPhee responded by saying that there is talk of changing this bylaw in the coming year.

“There are a fair amount of bylaw changes the board wants to make,” he said. “The board will be working towards a number of bylaw changes in the coming year, including that one.”

Before votes were counted, Hamilton stood up as did all other nominees and said, “I’ve been on the board in the past, and I look forward to being on the board again, hopefully.”

Hamilton expressed his main goals would be to ensure a cultural and arts voice on the board, as well as to better represent downtown businesses.

“Hopefully I’ll be successful,” he concluded.

After a message from Tourism Fernie Executive Officer, Jikke Gyorki, City of Fernie CAO Norm McInnis concluded the meeting.

With some additional funds, Tourism Fernie has decided to distribute it as such: The Fernie Trails Alliance will get $45,000 to maintain trails. The Fernie Snowmobile Association and Fernie Nordic Society will each get $18,000 for programming. Two major signage projects will be undertaken including adding features to drive more traffic off the highway and into the downtown area, as well as completely replacing the two gateway signs on the north and south sides coming into the city. The Historical Society and the Arts Council will each get $20,000. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce received $25,000, as a jump start for Griz Days. The Chamber and the Arts Council will share $15,000 for Sunday and Wednesday social events. Discretionary funds were awarded to businesses who submitted applications. The Historical Society received $10,000, the Roller Derby tournament received $4,000, the Fernie Transrockies Society’s Lucky Sevens Race received $4,000, the National Western Regional Mine Rescue Competition got $8,000 and Wapiti Music Festival got $4,000.