By Neil Ostafichuk
Many of you probably saw something in the past 6 or 8 months about the Creston Valley Visitor Centre shifting to an RDCK operation which has progressed smoothly and presently, we are just winding down a busy summer onto a slightly less busy fall. Our Visitor Centre Coordinator Amy has been in that leadership role for about 9-1/2 years which takes it back to when they were in the old SD8 building on the corner across from 7-11. We had the pleasure this summer of working with two students – Megan and Lukas – whose knowledge of the area and activities expanded exponentially over a few months from a combination of Amy’s tutelage, researching online and a whole pile of reading plus it was a pleasure to watch how they interacted professionally with visitors as they passed through.
I had to ask the team the other day what impact they thought technology has made on the tourism trade since everyone has a smart something or another and can plan everything out by just asking Siri or some other equally as pleasant android. Interestingly enough, and demonstrated by rising numbers over the years, many people still require that personal touch; in some cases to verify the truth of what their phone or GPS has told them and often learning otherwise. Case in point, a recent visitor was having trouble finding the Lussier Hot Springs which her phone said was here only to find they missed by a mountain range. I have to admit we do just that when we travel – you get a rough Google version of where you are going but the information gained by speaking with a live person from the area cannot be duplicated by technology whether it’s local events, places to camp, cool and quirky shops or just a greasy spoon breakfast that’s economical and won’t kill you.
Technology actually helps us get more info out to the masses via websites, Twitter, Instagram and all those social media sites which shows potential visitors photos and info about the Valley. It makes you wonder how many people started that way on a quest for information and have ended up as a resident of this area. It appears we are moving from a quick stop, on our way through, location to more of a destination as evidenced by more visiting families and overnight stays. Lured by agriculture and wineries, fruitstands and farmgate sales, hiking and biking and a myriad of other themes, people are coming here for an experience and we as a community are getting pretty good at providing it. It’s like the Community Complex – if you build it, they will come.
Educating visitors can also bring a raised eyebrow (insert picture of Spock here) – this year we heard “When do we get to BC?”, “When do the fires and smoke end?” and my favourite was when one of the students was showing a visitor the path of the Kootenay River as it flowed south into Koocanusa Lake and the USA then north again into Kootenay Lake on the wall mounted relief map of southeast BC. The comment was “How can it do that? Doesn’t that defy gravity?” One event that always attracts is the Creston Valley Fall Fair this Friday and Saturday at the Community Complex (2pm – 9 pm Friday and 9 am – 6pm Saturday). Celebrating their 99th year, it’s always fascinating to walk through all the animal exhibits, displays and entertainment plus it’s a great place to chat with friends and neighbours. See you there!