Houston tourism holding steady

Houston tourism numbers have held steady through the recession, as have some tried-and-true ways of reaching out to visitors.

Some tourists may see more Houston sights thanks to a new cell phone app, but plenty still stop here after thumbing a page in a travel guide that’s been around for 62 years.

“Every single one of those motor homes going through has a Milepost,” said Maureen Czirfusz, referring to the venerable Alaskan guidebook.

“It gives you a play-by-play of everything on Highway 16.”

Czirfusz, who manages the Houston & District Chamber of Commerce, just flew back from Victoria and a conference where Premier Clark revealed a new tourism strategy for B.C.

While in the capital, Czirfusz tried NearBC, a cell phone app that can gives travellers the walking distance and directions to a nearby restaurant or Visitor Centre.

This week, Northern BC Tourism released a similar app that shows data for towns from Prince George to Dawson Creek.

“Travellers are becoming more technologically savvy and increasingly reliant on the information they access from mobile devices,” said project manager Clint Fraser in a press release.

While that is certainly true, Czirfusz recently explained to council  that Houston tourism still gets great mileage by posting ads in guides like the Milepost and in fishing or snowmobiling magazines.

Nearly 11,000 visitors came to Houston last year, she said, and that number includes tour groups on a total of 46 buses.

“We’ve very much on par with previous years,” she said, adding that although bus numbers have fallen slightly since 2009, the Great Recession hasn’t really caused much of a dip in Houston’s tourist traffic.

And while Premier Clark hinted at a new marketing agency for B.C, new rules for the hotel room tax, and announced new plans to tap a growing market in India, Czirfusz said that most visitors to Houston are still guided by the “three M’s” of tourism.

“They’re coming to see our moose, our mountains, and they want to see Mounties in red serge.”

 

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