Visitor centre’s role has changed

Tourism committee member defends new site of info centre

I am writing this letter in support of moving the Vernon visitor centre to a more central location.

With the introduction of GPS and other smart phone technologies, random vehicle-based visitor stops at info centres have decreased. The demand for directional assistance is not as necessary. Siri anyone?

I feel that a lot of the observations by locals concerning the visitor centre have confused the function of tourism services with the need for an RV pit stop (I’ve heard them called rest areas).

The role of the visitor centre has changed. A bigger percentage of our tourists are now destination travellers or family and friends. As a tourist provider in several locations around Vernon, it has become increasingly evident to me that directing tourists and families to drive out of town to gather info on activities, events, dining, accommodation etc is just plain silly.

I believe the 39th Avenue location will be a place where locals and out of town guests will more readily access information on the very attractions they came here for and I believe this will inspire visitors to see and do more. The staff of the centre will be able to interact more with the community.

I believe a lot of thought and research went into choosing this location.

It is accessible from both Highway 97 and 27th Street. It already has a sani-dump, it is already owned by the city. It is close to hotels, restaurants, downtown, city hall, the rec complex, the Performing Arts Centre, Kal Tire Place and the Vernon Winter Carnival office.

It will be pet friendly, and believe it or not, RVs can turn in there. They along with plenty of buses have been doing it for years.

The long-range vision is to have the Greenway trail connect directly to the visitor centre and beyond. This will also help to beautify the area and may invite other tourist-oriented opportunities. The centre will function equally well with or without the Civic Arena as a neighbour.

I did attend the public hearing. It was supposed to be a rezoning issue from commercial to public institutional.

Excuse my naivety but I just don’t get why having a tourist info centre instead of a commercial business would be such a bad thing. It is worthy to note that most of the attendees were either not directly affected by the tourism industry or simply didn’t even live in the area.

It was interesting that some of the opponents thought the visitor centre would bring thousands and thousands of strangers with their dogs and kids to the area, and then some thought that not a single visitor would find the building.

Some related that it is impossible for RVs to make the turn to get there and yet someone else suggested that at times, there are so many RVs using the sani-dump that it is backed up.

Dudley Price submitted a letter to the editor giving his opinion on the Vernon visitor centre. It appears he is from Armstrong. Here is the listing for the Armstrong visitor centre: “Located in historic old town, the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Visitor Centre is located in close proximity to all amenities – restaurants, museum, art gallery, stores, fairgrounds, pool, playground and park.”

Apparently Armstrong has had it right all along.

Ingrid Baron, Blue-House Events owner and Vernon tourism advisory committee member