There’s no question that mountain biking has become a multi-million dollar economy in the Sea to Sky corridor, from the North Shore where modern freeriding was born, to Pemberton, where there is a growing interest in trails and tourism. How many millions of dollars spent here is still unknown, as is where and how that money is spent.
It is estimated that there are over 2,000 km of unsanctioned trails used by mountain bikers in the region, in addition to hundreds of kilometres of official trails.
The newly formed Mountain Bike Tourism Association is working with the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, local governments and the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance to get a big picture view of mountain biking in the corridor. Specifically, the study will also look at the economic impact of the Test of Metal race, which sold out all 800 spots this year in just over four hours.
Over the course of the study the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance will be gathering data from mountain bikers from Whistler to the North Shore from the beginning of June through the end of September.
The data will look at everything, from the value of the local market to the value of tourism. The goal of the study is to make a case for the preservation of trails and enhanced support for mountain biking in the region.
The Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, which has jurisdiction over recreation and trails, is currently doing an inventory of trails in the Sea to Sky area, as well as working to establish provincial trail standards and streamlining the process by which trails are made official.
The CSTA has done similar economic impact studies for other events in the past, from the 2006 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Vancouver to the 2005 Viessmann FIS World Cup cross-country races in Vernon.