Growing dependence on social media and the Internet for travel needs may require more of a virtual presence and less of a physical presence for Salmon Arm’s Visitor Information Centre.
On Monday, city council received a presentation from Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce general manager Corryn Grayston, the purpose of which was to formally submit a renewal request for a three-year contract to operate the visitor information centre in the Old Courthouse building.
Under the current contract, which expires Dec. 31, the city pays an annual fee of $134,500 for the operation of the info centre. With the proposed contract, the city would pay $135,500 for 2015/16, $137,535 in 2017 and $139,600 in 2018.
Council agreed to forward the request to budget deliberations. However, councillors also offered their thoughts on the increasing shift away from physical visitor information centres towards online technology.
Coun. Alan Harrison was first to admit to being a part of this trend, which is resulting in a reduction in the number of visitors at visitor centres.
“Everywhere you go, you see people on the street with a phone, figuring out what they want to do,” said Harrison.
With the numbers being down at the local visitor centre, Harrison said he thinks the city cannot count on people going through the doors and that the money would be better spent in getting people here through online and social media.
“Because we all do it; when we go somewhere, you go to Google, you type in 10 best things to do in…” he said. “We need to make sure that resource is there for Salmon Arm.”
Couns. Louise Wallace Richmond and Tim Lavery echoed Harrison’s suggestion that chamber focus more efforts/resources on expanding a digital presence.
Coun. Kevin Flynn questioned if the info centre’s hours of operation might be reduced, and more resources being put into a better online presence.
“I think you might need to rethink seven-days-a-week, even through the summers,” said Flynn. “It would be tough if people do actually get there on foot and it’s not open, but as everybody has stated, I just don’t know that the future is people in the info centre, as opposed to people being able to access everything that they could online…”