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Tourism numbers looking good for Fernie, with record winter visitation

Visitor Information Centre stats revealed Fernie hasn’t quite recovered from 2020 but is well on the way
Fernie B.C. from Mt Fernie in late 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Tourist visitor numbers have bounced back, but not recovered from 2020 according to the most recent stats from the Fernie Visitor Information Centre. (VIC).

A total of 24,721 people walked through the doors of the Fernie VIC in 2021, including record numbers in the winter season (January to March).

That number is the second highest in seven years of record keeping at the VIC – with the highest number being from 2019, when there were 27,004 visitors.

“We took a little bit of a hit in 2020, but we’ve certainly recovered those numbers and added some more last year,” said executive director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, Brad Parsell.

The chamber operates the Fernie VIC through an operating agreement with the City of Fernie.

Speaking during an update on the VIC for the committee of the whole on Tuesday Apr. 21, Parsell said that visitor numbers at the VIC closely mirrored hotel stay numbers, gathered by Tourism Fernie, in that while Fernie was doing better than 2020, it was still no 2019.

Interestingly, winter visitation numbers have shown consistent growth, with 2021 posting record numbers at the VIC at 3,241. In 2015 when records began to be kept, the winter visitor numbers were only 723. The pandemic wasn’t a dampener on that growth. “In spite of the pandemic, numbers in the winter time continued to grow over the last two years,” said Parsell.

Summer (between July and September) remains the go-to season for numbers, with 14,634 visitors in 2021, up from 12,115 in 2020 and down from 15,430 in 2019.

Fernie managed to maintain a lot of domestic tourism through the pandemic, with those numbers reflected in VIC stats. 58 percent of all visitors through their doors (that shared details about their trip) were from Alberta, while only 25 percent were from B.C.

As a drive destination, numbers of overnight stays were high, with 22.5 percent saying they were in town for a night, and 34.8 percent in town for two or more.

READ MORE: Tourism Fernie optimistic for 2022 after better-than-expected 2021
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