Sicamous is open for business and wants the world to know it.
And they’re getting some help to counteract the negative publicity following recent flooding.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors voted unanimously to approve up to $20,000 in funding for the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce’s “Open For Business” marketing campaign.
The funds, which will come from the District of Sicamous and Electoral Area E Economic Opportunity Fund, will be added to the $20,000 promised by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.
In a letter to the board, Sicamous Chamber president Corey Sigvaldason expressed concern for the economic effects wrought by washouts at Sicamous Creek and Hummingbird Creek on June 22.
“Businesses in the area are experiencing a sharp decline in their summer tourism traffic due to the misinformation about the areas that is still keeping visitors away,” she wrote. “It is our goal to tell the good-news stories about the recovery of the area and also relay the factual information about what you can expect on your visit to the Shuswap this year.”
Robyn Cyr, CSRD’s economic development officer and Tourism Shuswap manager, told directors at last week’s board meeting in Salmon Arm, that the marketing campaign is directed at regular visitors, who come from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
“Today I am still getting calls about the Shuswap being underwater, somebody understood the highway was underwater,” a frustrated Cyr told directors at the July 19 meeting.
“I fully support the request; we’re gonna feel the impacts for months,” said Area E director Rhona Martin, noting people are not being called back to work yet and she is hearing terrible numbers about revenues being down dramatically.
“What they’re hearing is houseboats have been washed up onto shore,” she said, noting that while debris remains in the lake, boating is possible. “You may not want to go onto the lake with your banana boat and go 100 miles an hour, but we really didn’t want you to do that anyway.”
Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton told directors that Sicamous was number eight in a list of declining Canadian communities from 2006 to 2011.
“I knew we were in hardship, I just didn’t know how much,” he said echoing Martin’s concern that one restaurant has already closed down this summer. “l heard from people last year ‘if we don’t have a good summer, we won’t make it.’”
Area D director René Talbot, said media coverage on B.C has included one disaster after another. And, while he supported the marketing campaign, he deemed it to be a tough sell.
Adding his support but feeling a window of opportunity has been missed, was Area F North Shuswap director Larry Morgan.
Salmon Arm rep Debbie Cannon supported the campaign that will focus on large media networks in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
“Alberta hits us right after stampede so it’s critical now,” she said of the $44,650 campaign. “I am thinking we should have a component of social media like Facebook and twitter.”