Owner of the Coachman Campground just north of town on Highway 23 was very pleased with the results of their high season 2014. Susan Kostuch says, “We had such a variety — everything from one night to a week or more, many finding us from our website, the visitor’s centre or our signage on the ferry. Most of our guests are campers with RVs or fifth wheels. I would have to say that our biggest shortfall is our ability to offer treed spots for large units, say anything more than 30 feet.” This is the first full summer they have been in business, having taken over part way through summer 2013.
Visitor Centre Manager Cedra Eichenauer was able to provide some statistics for this year compared to years previous.
“We keep stats, like how many hours a day we are open, how many parties come through, what visitors ask about, where they’re from and how long they are here. We don’t always have a chance; sometimes we ask three times and don’t get the answer,” Eichenauer laughed.
Overall, numbers are down compared to last year — down significantly for the quarter ending in June; spring was really slow, then starting in July and August things picked up. Statistically speaking, April, May and June was down 20 per cent — 998 this year versus 1236 in 2013. Third quarter (July, August, and September), was down 8.5 per cent — 3547 this year compared to 3875 last year. The Visitor’s Centre was open slightly more hours in September this year so this contributes to the totals as well. All of this could be a result of a combination of factors: possibly fewer people coming to Nakusp, but also people could be getting their information online or be repeat visitors who don’t need to use the services of the centre and therefore are not counted.
The buzz from other businesses in town is the same. Things were slow until June, and then in July were closer to normal with August as the best month.
Innkeeper Trisha Albertine from The Huckleberry Inn repeated the story with August being the peak month for guests, “It was a really slow start to the summer season and engines didn’t really get revving until halfway through July.” She commented that the years since the Nakusp Music Festival shut down have been poorer than the years prior.
“I didn’t realize just how big of an impact it had on the hospitality industry and business in general. I used to think it was busy a few days before and after, and of course the weekend of, but things just haven’t been the same since it stopped,” Albertine said in a phone interview with The Arrow Lakes News.
“I would love to see it back, or something like it. The festival really seemed to put us on the map and keep us top-of-mind.”