Salmon Arm's Visitor Information Centre sits empty on Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Help Salmon Arm business, services build their online presence

Council Report by City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason

By City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason

“Are we there yet?”

How about, “I’ll turn this station wagon around,” or “We just won’t go.”

If any of these sound familiar, then you’re at least as old as I am and can remember the screen-less backseat of a car in the good old days.

Unexpectedly, 2020 saw a return of the road-trip vacation. You probably had friends and family drive to visit you. Maybe you went somewhere on a day trip or for a weekend that you haven’t been to in a long time.

My short-, medium- and long-term expectations of travel habits are exactly that. Short trips within your region, followed by medium distances in Canada and the U.S. and then, eventually, the return of longer international flights.

The decision of City of Salmon Arm council to discontinue the Visitor Information Centre was a difficult one, but it has provided an opportunity to change how these services are provided. We have been working with local tourism providers to find out what they want, and studying best practices to see what others are doing.

Our next step is to develop a short-term strategy to deliver visitor services as effectively as possible during the pandemic and beyond. We hope to have this strategy complete soon and in place for early 2021. We will endeavour to get it right.

In the short-term, we need your help. We need you to shop and experience local. Moreover, we need you to support everything local online to help them build their presence.

One of our initial findings is that more people are using electronic devices. Sometimes they are asking locals or getting suggestions from the frontline staff in our shops, but online reviews are now dominating. Gone are the days of staring at a wall of brochures.

So I encourage you to go out and support local businesses and spend where you live. While you are there, ask them some questions so you know more about them. This will make you a better local ambassador for our Canadian road-tripping guests next year.

Most important, while you are reading this, think about your five local favourites. Now hop on your social media and give them a like or a 5-star review; it is free and helps them more than you know!

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