Lack of tourism dollars means Vernon visitor centre will remain closed

The Vernon Visitor Information Centre.
Image Credit: Google Street View

The Vernon Visitor Information Centre will remain closed for the foreseeable future due to cost-cutting measures implemented by the City.

The City of Vernon has decided not to give out a new contract to run the centre, which was due start May 1. The information centre's closure is one of several cut-backs the City is implementing within its tourism sector, along with the delayed hiring of a new tourism manager and the cancellation of advertising and other tourism projects.

In 2019, the City brought just over $1-million in hotel tax, an amount consistent over the last few years.

"This is projected to drop off significantly," the City's manager economic development of tourism Kevin Poole said April 27. "Our initial projection was upwards of a 70 per cent decline, that could grow close to 80 (per cent)."

Durning Directions & Service have run the visitor information centre since 2009 and shut the doors to the public April 3, and had continued to work behind the scenes. The company's contract expires April 30, and the City decided to cancel a request for proposal for companies to bid on a new contract which was due to start May 1.

Poole said the request for proposal was cancelled while the City reviews its financial situation regarding tourism. Poole said the City had $221,000 in its reserve tourism account at the end of 2019.

In 2014, Vernon council decided to amalgamate two visitor information centres located at the north and south ends of the city, relocating the centre to 39 Avenue. One of the justifications put forward at the time of the move was that studies showed that visitors who stopped in a city centre were four times more likely to spend money in that city, then if they stopped at a highway location.

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