Summer Visitors Exceeds 1,000,000 for the First Time
Mount Washington Alpine Resort hit the magical million mark before transitioning to the winter season, with one of its most successful summers ever.
“It was definitely a good summer for us, the weather helping us out greatly,” the Resort said. The successful summer followed on the heels of the mountain’s second-best winter, in 2002-03, when the were just shy of 400,000 visitors.
This summer, the scenic chairlift rides saw a 15 per cent increase “but we saw lots more people coming to our festivals,” they said. “And just generically in our bars and restaurants we were up over 15 per cent in those.”
According to Public Relations Director Dave Hampshire, overnight stays by American tourists were up 17 per cent. “We’re starting to show up on the map now,” Hampshire said.
It is still unknown whether HeliJet's new service connecting Campbell River and Seattle has directly affected Mount Washington, but the exposure has been positive, Hampshire said. “People are looking for a vacation they can go on, and especially for our American friends, a safe place to go. We’re seen to be a very low-risk area.”
Low risk, maybe. Fun? Definitely, as the numbers of people who attended Mount Washington’s many festivals can attest to.
For example, there was the inaugural chocolate festival. “It was insane!” Hampshire said. “It obviously exceeded any expectations we had. We actually had to close the doors” or they would have run out of chocolate, he said. “Our chocolate suppliers were also very surprised at how many people showed up.”
The public can count on another chocolate festival next summer, likely in mid-August.
The fifth annual wine festival was as popular as ever, and the fourth
annual beer fest was yet another sellout.
The summer luaus consistently draw 90 to 100 people every year – they are a larger version of Fat Teddy’s theme nights.
The bungee trampoline was a new feature on the mountain, and drew quite a crowd throughout the summer. “A lot of resorts are going to these things and finding great success with them – West Edmonton Mall has four,” Hampshire said.
The mountain bike racing series was a hit. This was the second year
for the Island Triple Throw Down, a Cycle BC-sanctioned race that combined
downhill, cross-country and side-by-side racing. The Hump Day Gravity
Series on Wednesday nights was also popular with local riders, who stuck
it out in order to qualify for cash prizes at the end.
“It’s a surprise in that our business was up about 30 per cent overall,” Hampshire concluded. “As an industry trend, we were an anomaly,” he said, adding that tourism in general was down province-wide.