The Visitor Centre welcomed 8,535 people, traveling in 5,420 parties to the Town of Ladysmith in 2015, says a report submitted by the Chamber of Commerce.
Submitted to the Town of Ladysmith’s Municipal Services Committee, the report has been compiled from tracking data collected at the Visitor Centre location at 33 Roberts Street.
Visits by ‘locals’ over the last four years were down significantly, but there was less of a drop in the number of people coming from elsewhere and stopping in at the centre.
The report says a 34 per cent drop in local visits can be attributed to the relocation of the VC in 2014, and the launch of a ‘new and improved’ web site at tourismladysmith.ca, where locals are increasingly going for information.
During the same four-year period visits from people living outside Ladysmith declined in the first three years by 16 per cent, but rebounded by 8 per cent in 2015.
Most visitors to the centre were locals, 35 per cent, or B.C. residents, 31 per cent. Other places of origin were: Europe, 10 per cent; Alberta, 8 per cent; the USA, 7 per cent; Canada, 7 per cent; and Asia / Australia, 2 per cent.
As well as tourists, potential new residents made up a significant number of the visits to the Centre. In particular, “Albertans are scoping out Ladysmith, and the Island, for retirement,” says the report. “This coincides with a significant increase in requests about relocation information.”
Most visitors didn’t stop for long at Ladysmith. Same-day visits accounted for almost 82 per cent of the total number of days in the ‘length of stay’ column. “Lack of accommodations would be the logical explanation for this,” the report says.
About 20 per cent of visitors stopped in at the centre to get directions. They also wanted to find out about: attractions, 9 per cent; places to eat, 8 per cent; local events and recreational opportunities, 7 per cent each; parks, 6 per cent; transportation and local services, 5 per cent each; accommodation, 4 per cent; shopping, 3 per cent; relocation and investment, 2 per cent; First Nations, 1 per cent.
There has been increased interest in First Nations. “Interestingly, requests for information about First Nations – while relatively few in number – increased dramatically over the past year, averaging less than 30 requests in previous years versus 70 requests in 2015.”