CEO Message

One thing for certain is that the tourism industry is one that can experience many peaks and valleys in any given business cycle and unfortunately, the valleys are often the result of factors beyond our capacity to control, such as the forces of nature.
As we enter our third week of ongoing wildfire issues in BC and our new Premier John Horgan extends the provincial state of emergency by an additional two weeks, one can’t help but wonder how to salvage what is left of the summer season’s visitation levels and how great the impact will be on tourism numbers throughout the province.
It is truly sad to see how the fires have affected people’s lives and their businesses in the South Cariboo region and parts of the North Thompson. It is heartening to know that many volunteers, firefighters, emergency crews, tourism operators and too many organizations to name, have all stepped up to help people that have been displaced, livestock that needs temporary housing and even pets that can’t be taken along with families that have been forced to evacuate. This is a situation no one wants to see happen and we certainly hope that the folks from Williams Lake can return home soon.
While acknowledging the reality of the situation in these impacted areas, we also need to counter the negative publicity that seems widely spread in the mainstream media news outlets and get the message out to potential visitors that we are indeed still open for business in most of this province.  To this end, Destination BC and ourselves along with the other regional organizations and community DMOS are using every available platform to ensure people have accurate information through official websites and links, such as ‘Know Before You Go’.

Click here (scroll to BC Tourism) to listen to VP of Global Marketing at Destination BC, Maya Lange talk about the conditions, stressing that BC is ready, willing and able to provide Albertans with memorable vacation experiences.  Another example of this effort can be read here in an article Maya did with the CBC.

Reaching out through our social channels, media, international tour operators and consumer marketing campaigns, we are striving to provide the truth and reassurance that we are ‘open for business’ and that our businesses are ready, willing and able to welcome guests this season. We would encourage you to do the same through all of your available outlets.

To provide the public with the most accurate information, we suggest you provide this link on your website.
We would like to have a better sense of how your business is doing during this time, are you experiencing cancellations, is your business volume down compared to this time last year and by how much?  Your insights are extremely important and beneficial for us to gather, please feel free to contact me by email if you have some quantitative comparisons or hard numbers. It is important to gather this information and provide it to our new Minister of Tourism, Lisa Beare, so that she and her team understand what the impact is to the tourism businesses in the province as we go through this challenging period.
On another note, we are hearing reports that some of our tourism businesses are having serious struggles this season with labour challenges.  Again, we would like to hear from you, if this is an issue for you and how it is impacting your ability to operate fully this season. 

We are working with Ginger Brunner of go2HR on the Kootenay Rockies labour situation.  We are conducting a survey and we encourage you to complete it so that we have an accurate summary of what the labour situation is in this area.

As mentioned earlier, Honourable Lisa Beare, (pictured right) is the newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Minister Beare is the MLA from Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and we look forward to working with her. There are also two ministers from our Kootenay region, Minister of Children and Family Development, Honourable Katrine Conroy and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Honourable Michelle Mungall. Click for a full list of Cabinet Ministers.

Finally, long-time colleague Dave Petryk, CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island Association is retiring in November and a replacement is being sought.  If you know of someone who might be a qualified candidate, you can find all the details here: PFM Executive Search
Once again, if you can help those who are being impacted by the wildfire situation, I encourage you to support the Canadian Red Cross.  It is times like this that as residents of this vast, beautiful, and sometimes challenging province we all need to join forces to help each other.

Kathy Cooper, CEO

Early Bird Registration for the KR TIC & AGM

Take advantage of the Early Bird Registration pricing which ends July 31.

Join the Kootenay Rockies Tourism staff, Board of Directors and guest presenters for a special celebration of the Association’s 40th Anniversary and Tourism Industry Conference & AGM on October 17-18 at the Golden Civic Centre.

In addition to celebrating and mingling with industry partners, you will hear from industry experts on digital media, brand ambassadors, influencers, engagement, Public Relations, tourism advocacy, website tagging, Google Trekker and more trending and engaging topics.

There are still a few Sponsorship Opportunities available and we are accepting Silent Auction donations.  We look forward to celebrating with you – forty years of collaboration in building the amazing travel destination – the Kootenay Rockies!

What’s Your Rush?

The regional campaign launched on April 4 and invited travellers to build a personalized itinerary on the campaign microsite and then to enter the contest to win a 3-night getaway in the region. The prize packages were packed full of ‘Rush’ activities. Over 1,600 entries were received and the winning entry was Jennifer D. of Calgary Alberta.  Jennifer has chosen the Nelson package and will be enjoying a 3-night stay, with 3 dinners and activities including a visit to the hot springs, paddle boarding, zip lining and river rafting.

For the second half of the regional campaign, the messaging changes to showcase the many great packages and deals that tourism businesses in our region are offering. Be sure to let us know what special offers, packages or deals you want to have included on our consumer sites – and and promoted through this regional campaign.

Email with your deals and photos to be included.

Amazing Race Canada Comes to the Kootenay Rockies

This show is ranked #1 on TV in Canada with over 2.1 million viewers per episode, and we are very excited this past May when they filmed an entire episode on location in the Kootenay Rockies communities of Castlegar and Nelson. The episode aired on Tuesday, July 18. Destination BC has a strong relationship with the Amazing Race show that goes back to the very first season the show had. Destination BC has proudly partnered with the production team and provided significant financial support to bring this fantastic show to BC every season it has been on the air.

They already have filmed episodes in Whistler, Vancouver, the Okanagan, Victoria, Tofino, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert and now both Castlegar and Nelson join the great towns in BC to be featured on the Amazing Race!  Kootenay Rockies Tourism worked very closely with the Executive team on the show and we were so thrilled with the activities and challenges the show provided for the competitors.

Huge thanks to Andrea Ryman of Tourism Castlegar, Dianna Ducs of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and all of the businesses and volunteers in both communities that helped bring this episode to life. If you missed the broadcast, you can view the episode on CTV.

KRT & go2HR Plan New Joint Initiatives to Address Labour Challenges

After a successful first year of developing targeted initiatives to address labour challenges in the Kootenay Rockies region, go2HR and ourselves are working together to provide more support to regional tourism employers moving forward.  Arun Subramanian, go2HR’s Director of Industry HR Development and Ginger Brunner, Regional HR Specialist, met with the KRT team on July 12&13 and toured some of the region to meet with employers and tourism program instructors.

KRT and go2HR plan to continue the Tourism Career Awareness campaign initiated in 2016 and participate and host key HR and career events to build on the successes gained last year. Additionally, Ginger Brunner will provide one-on-one HR support to tourism employers in the Kootenay Rockies region.

“Labour shortages significantly impact the ability of our tourism destination to grow to its full potential,” says Kathy Cooper, CEO of Kootenay Rockies Tourism. “It is critical that we support our stakeholders in attracting qualified staff, but we also need to ensure that those employers are applying best practices in human resource management so they remain attractive to their existing and potential employees.”

“Through our partnerships, we can combine our knowledge of the local environment and our marketing expertise with go2’s HR expertise to make this region and our tourism sector the most sought-after work environment.” adds Cooper.

“We are excited to continue this partnership with Kootenay Rockies Tourism and extend Ginger’s reach to increase assistance and guidance to tourism employers in the region,” says Subramanian. “From our recent visit, we gained some insights into specific labour challenges faced in the region as well as innovative solutions that employers have adopted to address these challenges. We look forward to working with KRT to share these innovative practices as well as  help support local tourism businesses to become employers of choice.”

The immediate priority is to assess the extent of labour shortages in the region during this peak summer season. To this end, go2HR and KRT are conducting a short survey with tourism employers, which will provide an insightful snapshot of the current situation.

All employers are asked to take 15 minutes of their time to complete the survey.

The LoveLifeLoveWork campaign leads potential employees to the Kootenay Rockies Job Board at go2HR. More information on the program can also be viewed on

For any HR related questions, please contact Ginger Brunner, Regional HR Specialist for TOTA and KRT.
250-860-5999, X210,

Stakeholder Profiles

Fernie Brewing Company – Tasting Room, Now Open!

With the Fernie Brewing Co. Tasting Room proving increasingly popular over the past couple of years, it became clear that a revamped and larger space was required. There was also the need for more warehouse space and a new tank farm, as well as additional office space.

Located just off Hwy 3, to the east of Fernie, means Fernie Brewing Co. is often the first point of call for traffic arriving into town. With the new extended bar and tower, it now offers up to 12 fresh from the source beers on tap – rotating core beers, seasonal and limited-release brews, as soon as they are available.

Mineral Mountain Ziplines – Brand New, Now Open!

Todd and Jay Manton have opened a brand new six-line course at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort called Mineral Mountain Ziplines. Prepare to take flight, as you glide effortlessly through forest canopies, across Fairmont Creek and take in views of the surrounding Hoodoos, Columbia Lake, Rocky Mountains and more.

“The site for Mineral Mountain Ziplines is rich with geographical and ecological features, and everything we do is designed to minimize the impact on the area. We want our guests to enjoy the stunning views of the larch and Douglas fir forests, the hoodoos and Columbia Lake in their purest form.” quote Mineral Mountain Ziplines.

Kootenay Rockies staff had a chance to experience the new zipline, prior to its public opening July 8. This new attraction offers a fun and safe way to immerse in the Rocky Mountain scenery for the whole family. Zip and dip packages are available.