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Fernie tourism numbers on the increase



Southeastern B.C. resort town bucks trend

Despite summer tourism numbers taking a dip in the rest of the B.C., the Fernie Tourism Association reports an increase in tourist activity over last year.

According to FTA manager Jennifer Nicholls, visits to Fernie were up 28 per cent over the same time last year.

"I think there are more and more people who are finding out about Fernie and discovering all that the summer has to offer in the Elk Valley," said Nicholls.

According to Nicholls, the average length of a visitor's stay also increased from 1.5 days last year to 1.8 days this year.

Nicholls said Fernie's historic downtown was busier and tourists were spending more.

"A lot more fly-fishers are coming in larger groups and are looking to stay in high-end facilities," she said as an example.

Fernie has received a bonanza of media attention in the last few years due to the increasing popularity of Fernie Alpine Resort, located a couple of kilometres south of town.

Last year, Rolling Stone magazine singled out Fernie as North America's hottest ski town.

In 1997, Men's Journal magazine included the small town, which is located in southeastern B.C.'s Rocky Mountains, in its list of dream towns.

The ski resort had traditionally attracted hardcore skiers for years but Resorts of the Canadian Rockies owner Charlie Locke bought the resort in 1997 and, in 1999, added new chairlifts that doubled the area's existing terrain.

Skier visits have since exploded and an invasion of Albertans, Americans, Aussies and Euros has turned a rough and tumble coal-mining town into a hip and happening place, and has also increased Fernie's popularity as a summer destination.

During the past summer, Fernie played host to major mountain bike and adventure races, and is home to a popular annual music festival each August.

The Canadian national ski team also based its summer dryland training camp in Fernie this year.

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