The City of Castlegar has renewed its contract with the Castlegar Chamber of Commerce to operate Castlegar’s visitor information centre. The new contract is valid for three years, expiring at the end of 2018.
The city provides about 75 per cent of the funding necessary to run the visitor centre. The formula the city uses to calculate the amount it contributes is to transfer 95 per cent of business licence revenues collected in the past year, which will be approximately $80,000. The city will also provide the chamber a grant of $6000 to help with the cost of publishing the annual visitors guide. In addition, the city will also provide up to $1250 towards the printing of city maps or other marketing initiatives.
Last year over 15,000 people physically went through the doors of the visitor centre and thousands more contacted the office through email or phone calls. “I think it is really important that people understand the economic benefit of having the visitor centre open year round,” said Castlegar Chamber of Commerce executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk. “It is so critical that we operate here.”
Statistics show that a high percentage of people who relocate to a town come there first as a visitor, so staff works at promoting Castlegar, not just as a place to visit, but as a place to live and do business. “Having the visitor centre and the chamber of commerce together in the same office adds a whole piece to it that if you were a stand alone visitor centre, you don’t have,” said Verigin-Burk. “We like to say that it is kind of like a one stop shop for visitors, that we can completely market our town to them.” Questions can be answered not just about local attractions, but on housing prices, business opportunities and similar things people want to know before making a decision to relocate.
The chamber of commerce and the city have a good working relationship, Verigin-Burk describes it as phenomenal. They try to work collaboratively, making sure the city knows what the chamber is up to. The chamber also works to ensure that they are using the same branding, trying to sell Castlegar as a brand. Verigin-Burke explained, “When people come into this office, it’s not just, ‘Welcome to Castlegar,’ and we send them off. We make sure that it is a whole package, that we are selling our town from all different lenses.”