Squamish residents need to start thinking of their community as a tourist destination, says a representative of Tourism Squamish.
Over the past year, the organization has been aggressively marketing Squamish in the Lower Mainland, Washington and Oregon as an adventure travel destination, said Jared Sissons, a representative of Tourism Squamish and general manager of Executive Suites Hotel and Resort Squamish.
Most Canadian visitors come from British Columbia, followed by Ontario and Alberta. The area is also seeing a boom in mountain bikers coming to stay from the United Kingdom and Australia.
“Leisure-based travel is really taking off for Squamish,” Sissons said.
This year, the Executive Suites Hotel partnered with Canadian Outback Adventures. The outdoor recreation company set up an operations base at the hotel and offer guests whitewater rafting trips from that location. It's these kinds of alliances Sissons hopes to see more of in Squamish.
“[Squamish] really is going to develop as a destination for tourism,” Sissons said. “[Residents] need to get behind these types of things.”
Currently, Tourism Squamish is working with the Live at Squamish music festival and the RBC GranFondo road cycling race to promote more overnight stays, the organization's acting manager Dana Schoahs said. To boost the community's profile in the media, Tourism Squamish and the music festival are inviting six key news outlets to attend the event and tour the town.
Tourism Squamish has emailed GranFondo participants information on possible local training routes and places to stay before race day, Schoahs added.
If the Sea to Sky Gondola is approved by the province, the 2,700-foot cable lift to a ridge below Mount Habrich will enhance Squamish's tourist reach, Sissons said. Tourism Squamish hopes to work with the company to further promote the area, he noted.
To properly market the area, Tourism Squamish needs to grow, Sissons said. The organization has a managing director and works with the Squamish Chamber of Commerce to run the information desk at the Squamish Adventure Centre.
“We want to bring [Tourism Squamish's staffing levels] up to two full-time positions,” he said.
The organization raises money through membership and a two per cent tax placed on local hotel accommodation. Tourism Squamish also receives an approximate $50,000 grant from the District of Squamish.
“We truly appreciate the support,” he said. “It does help the whole community.”
The organization is running a summer sweepstakes, showcasing the activities Squamish has to offer. The 10-week contest, which includes prizes such as rafting and paddleboarding, can be found on its website at www.tourismsquamish.com.