With the month of August seeing the return of warmer temperatures to the Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs areas, the tourism industry is in full swing.
The communities of both Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs have seen higher tourism numbers this year than last year.
“Our season this year has been up by about 20 per cent from previous years,” said Judy Pickard of the Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Visitor Information Centre. “We had a really positive year for the community.”
Robert Reyerse, executive director of Tourism Harrison, has also noticed an increase in the amount of visitors to the area this season.
“Generally, it’s been a good summer and the hotels are doing very well,” he said. “Their occupancy is up compared to last year so I’d say overall, tourism is doing very well.”
Reyerse credited the low Canadian dollar as one of the reasons that visitor numbers are up this season.
“The Canadian dollar remains low and more and more Americans are coming up and rediscovering Canada,” he said. “The Canadian dollar being down also means that the Canadians are staying in the province as well so we just have that double hit.”
However, while this year has seen one of the area’s more successful seasons, the increase in numbers started last year.
“It’s just a continuing trend from last year,” Reyerse said. “We saw the same thing last year – more Americans are coming and when you add that to the Canadians that are coming, it just adds for more tourism overall.”
In May Tourism Harrison launched Harrison 3.0, a new marketing campaign that encouraged social media users to use the hashtags #harrisonhotsprings and #justuptheroad, which could also have an effect on the amount of visitors to the area.
“We’re getting lots of visitors to use it so they’re tagging their photos and we’re using that to populate our Faceboook pages with great images,” he said. “That peer to peer marketing just works great so when your friends are showing you awesome pictures from Harrison Hot Springs, you think you want to come out here as well.”
But both Reyerse and Pickard suggested that there’s something about the Agassiz-Harrison area that attracts visitors, despite the value of the Canadian dollar.
“We have, proudly, one of the nicer beaches in the lower mainland,” Reyerse said. “We have an incredible lake that brings in lots of traffic as well and Harrison, of course, has the hot springs so that brings people year round. It’s a great place to come and beat the heat.”
“It’s a nice day trip,” Pickard added. “Everybody that’s coming to stay in the community, they know that it’s a short drive out from the city or from Bellingham and Seattle.”