Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce has seen a lot of activity at its visitor information centre despite the COVID-related travel restrictions.
“Our numbers at the bricks and mortar centre were down but with the addition of the Beach Visitor Centre in 2020, we were able to reach approximately the same number of people as we did in 2019,” said Randi Amendt, the chamber manager. The visitor centre had set up a secondary location at the Radley Beach Park for the summer months and were also serving ice cream at the location.
The summer numbers for visitors were surprisingly high. In July and August, the centre saw 2,297 and 2,285 visitors. Last year, in the same months, the visitors were only slightly higher with 3,344 in July and 3,181 in August.
“We created a “treasure hunt” called I-spy for our community in the hopes of getting our locals out and about exploring Burns Lake and the Lakes District. We collected rocks, painted them the traditional Visitor Centre blue and added the yellow I so they were able to be recognized easily, on the back we printed Burns Lake. It was a great souvenir for visitors and locals,” said Amendt.
The chamber and visitor centre staff hid these rocks around the community and throughout the Lakes District, including the Southside and all the way out to Babine Lake. Once found, the rocks could be returned to the Visitor Centre and the “finders” got a free ice cream cone.
“This initiative created quite the buzz and Destination B.C. loved the idea and presented it to visitor centres across B.C. A simple but effective way to get Burns Lake on the map, we had calls from seven visitor centres across B.C. asking for details,” said Amendt.
The winter calls were however much lower than usual with most winter activities cancelled and people being encouraged to stay in their own communities and not travel for activities like skiing, snowboarding, etc.
While October saw 138 visitors, November saw just eight visitors compared to last year’s 203.
Most people who stopped by this year, were looking for the area’s biking trails and campsites, said Amendt.
“We are sitting on a real gem here in Burns Lake and I look forward to seeing tourism grow and expand in our community,” she added.
Starting next year, the chamber will no longer be managing the tourist visitor information centre.
Earlier last month, the village decided to not renew the Visitor Information Centre Operating Agreement with the chamber, effective Dec. 31, 2020 and instead will be handing over the reigns of the visitor centre to the village’s economic development department.
The chamber will be moving out of their current office at the Heritage Centre and will be moving 132 A Francois Lake Drive, next door to PAPC and Work BC.
“Pacific Atlantic Pipeline has offered us space at no charge. We appreciate the generosity of PAPC and are grateful they see the value of the Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce and all we do in the community,” said Amendt.