Recent History – 2003
September 2, 2003 – By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
The summer tourist industry was down slightly according to local businesses, but work crew visits increased over last year.
“We are down in terms of tourists from last year,” said Kathy Pettit, the desk manager of the George Dawson Inn. “Our bus tours have dropped. We had a lot more cancellations this year,” she added. Bus tours originating in Canada and the U.S. decreased considerably.
“Some just decided to stay in Grande Prairie or Fort St. John and
some just cancelled everything,” Pettit added.
Ron Pilgrim, the manager of the Inn on the Creek saw a similar pattern.
“I have definitely noticed a decline in the last five years,” he said. “It seems to me that there are more and more RV’s on the road and that is taking its toll on the hotel business.”
Ron Jabs of Shirley’s RV and Campsite reported an “average” year with most guests staying one to two nights each.
Marilyn Howard at the Dawson Creek InfoCentre noted the decrease in tourists to Dawson Creek.
“We are down in the 15 percent range,” she said.
Uncertain economic times as well as a global downturn in tourism are just a couple of reasons for the decrease according to Alaska Hotel owner Charles Kux-Kardos.
“Generally, in July the restaurant was down,” he said. “My perception is that tourism is down all over.
Kux-Kardos went on to say that there are a variety of reasons for the downturn including the war in Iraq and strained Canadian-American relations.
“The work crews have been very helpful in trying to make up the gap,” he said, adding that Tourism B.C. and the current administration have tried their best to make Dawson Creek an attractive place to spend vacation time.
The surface decrease of strict tourist numbers does not discourage Ryan MacIvor of Tourism Dawson Creek.
“This is no surprise,” he said. “Everyone is down a little bit. I think its everything from SARS to mad cow to the global economy.”
MacIvor stresses that the summer was a good one for events in Dawson Creek that brought people into the city to spend money. The Masons’ conference, the bluegrass festival and the Fall Fair all brought in good crowds.
“We also have a lot of visitors with relation to the oil and gas industry,” he said. “As much as they are working here and not strictly tourists, they stay in our hotels and put money right back into the economy.”