Visitors to Oliver have decreased slightly this year, but visitor centre and tourism manager Rhoda Brooks is not discouraged. She said the Visitor Centre welcomed 2,629 guests in July, a decrease of about 12 per cent over the same period last year.
However, Brooks noted the shortfall was made up after an increase in August, and she expects to see more visitors come through for events like Festival of the Grape, this fall.
Brooks noted that a significant number of visitors hailed from our neighbours to the east, which she said surprised and thrilled her.
“I didn’t expect to see a lot of Albertans this year because of the flood, but they’re diehard! They seem to love it here and I’m really pleased with that.”
Brooks said Oliver is also seeing more American guests than ever before. She attributes the jump to the town’s re-branding.
“The re-branding is working. People are calling from all over the States. They want to know where the wine capitol is,“ she added. When it comes to keeping visitors entertained Brooks said Oliver is more than prepared.
“People fall in love with Oliver. We get so many that plan to stay for one night and decide to stay for four or five.”
Brooks said one couple she spoke with were so charmed by the community they put in a bid on a condo in town.
She said the only persisting concern among the majority of visitors she encountered was a lack of accommodations.
“I always refer guests to the businesses in Oliver and I get positive reviews but I do get asked if we have a chain hotel and the fact is, we don’t have one.”
Brooks said she supports local business, including motel and B & B owners and doesn’t feel the addition of a chain hotel would discourage visitors from using them.
In the meantime, municipal manager Tom Szalay assured the Chronicle that the Town is continuing to entice hotel owners to build their businesses in Oliver. He said the Town is currently offering a land tax exemption to developers for the first ten years of business as long as they would continue to operate a hotel on the property.