Tourism Fernie has won an award for its efforts in promoting sustainable tourism and recreation.
The organization recently received a BCEDA Community Project Award at the B.C Economic Summit in Penticton for its AmbassadorWILD Sustainable Tourism Program.
The event, hosted by the B.C Economic Development Association, brought economic developers, Indigenous leaders, government officials, chambers of commerce and boards of trade together to discuss the trends, challenges and opportunities that impact the provincial economy. Awards were given to projects and initiatives that make a meaningful difference in the economy.
AmbassadorWILD officially launched in the summer of 2022 in response to outcomes from Regional District of East Kootenay Area A Sustainable Tourism Project and Fernie’s Tourism Master Plan.
“It’s amazing to see all the support and recognition for the program as the development of the program was based on local needs and input. We will work to continue to expand the program and be of service,” remarked Tourism Fernie executive officer Jikke Gyorki in an e-mail to the Free Press.
Various sustainable tourism projects have been introduced through the program. Wildlife cameras were installed on Heiko’s Trail with the help of wildlife biologist Clayton Lamb and compostable toilets were installed at Silver Spring Lake.
The program also involves significant data monitoring and collection at various sights including the Elk River boat launches and Coal Creek. The number of people and animals that frequent the site are tracked through trail counters at a few of the locations and the wildlife cameras at Heiko’s.
Staff survey people at the sites to find out where they’re from, whether they’ve visited before and why they decided to visit.
Gyorki explained that all this information helps biologists identify the health of the critters that are caught on camera and their frequency. In the long-term, it can help them determine what impact humans have on local animal populations.
Tourism Fernie has also been involved in promoting outdoor safety, both in-person and online. They frequently partner with safety experts such as AdventureSmart, Fernie Search & Rescue, WildsafeBC and Leave No Trace.