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Word is out about Pemberton as U.S. visitor numbers up

Staff chart increase in the number of campers



The profile of the Pemberton summer tourist hasn't changed much over the past few years: Most are from B.C. or Europe, many come for the day, and travel from Whistler. But there is a growing number from all over the U.S. — not just from Washington, Oregon and California.

"What I notice is there are a lot more campers — we're seeing a lot more people tenting," said Shirley Henry, secretary-treasurer of Tourism Pemberton.

The summer of 2016 was very busy, Henry said, adding that as more people turn to the economical form of accommodation with camping, many are turned away in the Sea to Sky corridor, which has limited availability in campgrounds.

"We've only got so much capacity — even mid week, they'd be full," said Henry. "That's never happened before."

As tourists everywhere push into the backcountry, the well-documented explosion in popularity in areas such as Joffre Lakes presents new problems.

"Seeing the number of people at Joffre, it's packed," said Henry.

Tourism Pemberton's president Mark Mendonca said the success of the Pemberton app has brought increased attention to the bucolic valley and its environs.

"It's building awareness," he said, noting that the annual Pemberton Music Festival also gives incalculable exposure for Pemberton. Mendonca, who owns Grimm's Gourmet and Deli, said he is fully booked to cater for upcoming weddings this summer.

"The app is the central source for events for the community," he said. "I think it will continue to grow and work for a lot of businesses in town." There were 21 million impressions from September through October, and almost 6,000 page visits in the same period.

And that exposure translates all year, from an increase in snowmobiling in winter to hiking and daytrips in summer.

"On any Friday night or Saturday morning in winter, the gas station is filled," he said, with snowmobilers filling up tanks for the weekend.

Tourism Pemberton just held its Annual General Meeting on Feb. 27 with no change in its executive or directors. Up next, said Mendonca, is exploring a Pemberton POW event for winter.

"We have snowmobiling, cat skiing, heli skiing, ice fishing — we're looking at putting it all together on one big weekend," he said. "We're just putting it out there — let the pros tell us what the best time is for that kind of activity."


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