The future looks good for tourism in Salmon Arm, if 2021 is an indication.
During a presentation at Downtown Salmon Arm’s recent AGM, Lana Fitt, manager of the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, SAEDS, brought positive economic news.
She spoke about the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT), also referred to as the hotel tax, which is a two per cent tax levied each time a guest stays a night in Salmon Arm, and then put into a fund.
While the overnight stays went down about 35 per cent from 2019 to 2020 in the midst of pandemic travel restrictions, in 2021 the recovery was significant, she said. About $267,000 in MRDT revenue or about $13.5 million in total accommodation revenue was generated across all properties in Salmon Arm, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
She noted Salmon Arm took a lead role in providing emergency services for the region by providing shelter for nearby communities affected by fires, which could have played a part in the increased revenue.
Fitt said numbers of domestic travellers visiting Salmon Arm are expected to increase in 2022 over pre-pandemic levels, as well as the return of inter-provincial and international travellers. She also pointed to the impact from events returning in 2022.
In terms of business programs, Fitt said the Annual Business Forum, a full-day event with high level speakers, will be returning in the fall after a hiatus of a few years.
Now that the Salmon Arm Top 20 Under 40 business celebration has concluded, SAEDS will be launching the Top 20 Over 40 program, a chance for “older leaders to shine in our community and be honoured for the amazing work they’re doing.”
Fitt also said Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur, which was paused for an extra year due to the pandemic, is returning this year.
“About 22 businesses are registered and already participating in a series of workshops designed to help them launch their business in the Shuswap,” Fitt said. The program includes a Dragon’s Den-style finale night, where businesses are judged on their plans and pitches.
Also presenting from SAEDS was Kate Watson, the new marketing coordinator, as well as Caitlin Thompson, projects coordinator. Watson provided details about the Big Connect, a program designed to help businesses connect to their customers as recovery gets underway.
“We will be offering up some tools and resources with a mini package to help quote-unquote spring clean your digital presence, or finally create one if you’re not already online…,” Watson said.
A Big Connect Personalized Program will also be offered, which will include a professional photographer, discussions with Watson about marketing and individual businesses, as well as having such businesses highlighted.
Thompson referred to a new promotional video as an example of one of the tools to be used in 2022 to attract events and business to the community.
She also spoke about the MRDT, which is being used to support and expand tourism programs in the community and tourism marketing for Salmon Arm.
Requests to use the funds go to the city’s MRDT committee, which was formed by SAEDS, and is made up of tourism stakeholders, Thompson said.
In 2021, the MRDT program helped support three events through funding or supportive services, she said. The number is growing quickly, with already more than 12 events requesting MRDT support in 2022.
More information about SAEDS, its work and staff can be found at www.saeds.ca.
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