October 2, 2020

FERNIE, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Tourism in Fernie will now be guided by a plan developed through a massive collaborative process that took place starting in 2018. The 58-page document details the stakeholders and process that worked together to create a new vision and path for a key sector of Fernie’s economy and future where visitor spending totalled $130 million in 2019. The plan was launched online on September 30th and is now available at

“This plan could not have happened without the dedication and commitment of the stakeholders on the Task Force,” said Jikke Gyorki, Executive Officer at Tourism Fernie. “Tourism is a community-driven economy where a diversity of local small businesses and non-profit organizations work hand-in-hand with the municipality and various levels of government and community members to invest in and deliver exceptional visitor experiences while enhancing local amenities, infrastructure, festivals and attractions.  To be effective in tourism requires teamwork, partnerships and a plan.”

Funded by the Columbia Basin Trust, Tourism Fernie, City of Fernie, Fernie Chamber of Commerce and the Regional District of East Kootenay, this Tourism Master Plan focuses on the next 10+ years and details areas of focus with further strategic directions and specific action items to work on over the next 3-5 years.  Developed to evolve as market dynamics and local needs change, the plan, which was originally to be launched in spring, was amended by the Task Force to take into account the impacts of COVID-19 and the community’s recovery.

“Fernie is very fortunate to have a hard-working tourism community. Working together to grow tourism has been an ongoing process. The Tourism Master Plan is a great opportunity to really move our community further forward. By working together and presenting a united, thought out plan, there is no doubt Fernie will continue to develop as one of Canada’s outstanding destinations,” exclaimed Andy Cohen, General Manager at Fernie Alpine Resort.

The gathering and incorporation of input from the tourism sector and community was critical for the development of an informed plan. During the community engagement process over 580 residents and 110 businesses participated in a detailed survey, while various sectors such as activity operators, cultural organizations, environmental organizations, land and trail user groups and more were part of specific focus group sessions.  Further efforts and details can found within the plan. This input provided clarity on Fernie ‘now’ as a tourism community and on where tourism should go in the future.  The Task Force, along with consulting company Whistler Centre of Sustainability, combined further data, research and expertise that was integrated into the plan.

“Tourism in Fernie is growing. The Master Plan process was an opportunity for our business community and residents to comment on and guide that growth. The Plan is designed to maximize tourism benefits while mitigating challenges. The Chamber looks forward to the community continuing to come together and get to work,” said Brad Parsell, Executive Director at the Fernie Chamber of Commerce.

For more details visit

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Media Contacts:

Jikke Gyorki, Executive Officer at Tourism Fernie        250-423-2037 ext 2

Brad Parsell, Executive Director at Fernie Chamber of Commerce    250-423-6868

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Master Plan to Launch September 30th.

Initiated in 2018, Fernie’s Tourism Master Plan will be officially launched to the public in September and act as a guiding document and action plan to support the growth and sustainability of tourism in our community over the next 5 – 10 years.  The development of the Plan has been a collaborative effort led by Tourism Fernie that includes essential partners such as the City of Fernie, Fernie Chamber of Commerce, Fernie Alpine Resort, the Regional District of East Kootenay, Fernie Trails Alliance, Fernie Heritage Society, Fernie & District Arts Council, Elk River Alliance, Wildsight, Island Lake Resort Group, local tourism operators and more.

      • Join us at 7:00pm on Wednesday September 30, 2020 for an online Zoom presentation of the Tourism Master Plan! To register please email

Consultant Dan Wilson, from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, and the local Tourism Master Plan Task Force worked diligently throughout 2019 to develop and refine a plan that was informed by the results of a comprehensive community consultation and engagement process conducted in late 2018. The process included over 10% of the local resident population and 20% of local businesses participating in a detailed survey, sector groups such as arts, environment and activity/recreation participating via focus group sessions and NGO surveys, one-on-one interviews with Ktunaxa, Teck, College of the Rockies and others. Along with integrating current local and industry data and trends, the plan includes a clear vision and mission, guiding principles and strategic directions for tourism over the next 10 years. More specifically the Task Force identified a variety of action items that would lead the community towards its new tourism vision.

The Tourism Master Plan was initially scheduled to launch in May 2020, then COVID-19 pandemic began and it impacted tourism locally and globally. As our tourism industry worked to manage and adapt to this new crisis, the Tourism Master Plan Task Force came together to review the current developed plan and make the needed revisions based on the best information and forecasting ability on hand. The plan has been updated and will continue to see revisions and updates as tourism continues to manage and adapt.

“We are very pleased with the support and involvement of the community and stakeholders in developing this Tourism Master Plan for Fernie,” exclaimed Jikke Gyorki, Tourism Fernie’s Executive Officer. “This is the first time Fernie has undertaken this type of initiative. We envision this plan will be an evolving one as stakeholders continually tackle action items, update strategies and follow a clear path to ensure tourism in our community grows sustainably for the long-term.”

The Tourism Master Plan (TMP) Task Force has now transitioned and evolved into the TMP Champion Group. This group consists of the following members:

  • Kurt Saari – Nevado’s Restaurant & Tourism Fernie Chair
  • Jikke Gyorki – Tourism Fernie Executive Officer & TMP Project Coordinator
  • Brad Parsell – Fernie Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
  • Michael Boronowski – City of Fernie CAO
  • Mike McPhee – Island Lake Resorts Group
  • Louise Ferguson – Fernie & District Arts Council
  • Randal Macnair – Wildsight/Fernie Museum
  • Simon Howse – Representative for Private Land Owners Group
  • Krista Turcasso – Fernie Trails Alliance
  • Scott Gilmet – IGS Group of Accommodations & Tourism Fernie Board Member
  • Andy Cohen – Fernie Alpine Resort GM
  • Janice Alpine – Ktunaxa & Ktunaxa Branding Initiative
  • Lee-Anne Walker – Elk River Alliance
  • Derick Berry – Fernie Central Reservations & Fernie Property Care
  • Mike Sosnowski – Regional District of East Kootenay Area A Director

Our Tourism Vision

A vibrant and sustainable tourism destination built on respect, collaboration and authenticity.

Our Tourism Mission

To work together to manage and grow tourism sustainably for the betterment of our community and our visitors.

Guiding Principles

Together We Are Stronger
Businesses Thrive Sustainably
Authenticity Grounds Us
A Respected Natural Environment
Benefiting the Whole
Balance Sustains Us

The Task Force acknowledges the following organizations for their funding contribution towards the development of the plan: Columbia Basin Trust, Tourism Fernie, City of Fernie, Fernie Chamber of Commerce and the Regional District of East Kootenay.

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About the Tourism Master Plan

In decades’ past, when the tourism landscape was less cluttered, it was possible for destinations to solely market their product or attraction and attain some level of success.  In today’s highly competitive tourism marketplace, it is highly advantageous for all the stakeholders within a destination to work to towards common goals.  This means, not only promoting the destination, but planning, funding, and governing it as well.  All stakeholders need to be rowing in the same direction to be successful in today’s world.

A Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for Fernie should be a minimum of 10 years in length and include all stakeholders and especially those that are governing, funding, building and marketing the destination. The Tourism Master Plan should consult, advise on and be integrated into other community plans – City of Fernie’s Official Community Plan, Fernie’s Resort Municipality Initiatives Resort Development Strategy, Tourism Fernie Strategic Plan, Chamber of Commerce plans, Visitor Centre strategies, and tourism-related plans by additional groups such as the Fernie Trails Alliance, Arts Station, Museum, Nordic Society, Snowmobile Association and others.

A Tourism Master Plan Task Force was established early in the process, working together with a professional tourism consultant from Whistler Centre of Sustainability who has helped conduct the research and stakeholder engagement, and to develop the plan.

A TMP should set the long-term course for all stakeholders, provide strategic direction and advise all major decisions.

Timeline: Process began in early 2018, stakeholder engagement took place in the fall of 2018. Further consultation and plan development has continued into 2019.  Launch in early 2020.

TMP Funding Partners:

  • Tourism Fernie – $20,000+ project management
  • City of Fernie – $10,000
  • Fernie Chamber of Commerce – $2,000
  • Regional District of East Kootenay – $2,000
  • Columbia Basin Trust – $20,000

Current TMP Task Force Members:

Jikke Gyorki – Executive Officer & TMP Coordinator, Tourism Fernie
Scott Gilmet – Director of Marketing & Sales of IGS Group (Park Place Lodge, Griz Inn & Cornerstone Lodge)
Brad Parsell – Fernie Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
Andy Cohen – General Manager of Fernie Alpine Resort
Michael Boronowski – CAO of the City of Fernie
Ange Qualizza – Mayor of the City of Fernie
Mike McPhee – Director of Sales & Marketing of Island Lake Resort Group
Mike Sosnowski – Area A Director, Regional District of East Kootenay
Kurt Saari – Owner of Nevados Restaurant & Chair of Tourism Fernie
Krista Trucasso – President of the Fernie Trails Alliance
Derick Berry – Owner Fernie Central Reservations, Fernie Chamber Board Member
Lee-Anne Walker – Elk River Alliance
Randal Macnair – Wildsight
Ron Ulrich – Executive Director, Fernie Museum, Fernie Heritage Strategy

Past TMP Task Force Members:

Patty Vadnais – Past Fernie Chamber of Commerce Manager
Shelley L’Estrange – Past General Manager of Best Western Plus Fernie Mountain Lodge
Norm McInnis – Past CAO of the City of Fernie
Mary Giuliano – Past Mayor of the City of Fernie
Sheila Byers – Past President, Fernie Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Lennox – Director of Planning, City of Fernie

For more information please contact Jikke Gyorki, Executive Officer at Tourism Fernie by calling 250-423-2037.

Samples from other BC destinations:

Fernie’s Value of Tourism

Videos on the importance of tourism – Vancouver Island –


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Survey & Engagement Highlights

This past October and November a resident and business survey was available to acquire input about tourism in Fernie, current and future. The resident survey attracted 583 participates and the local business survey attracted 113 participants. This surpassed the goal of 400 surveys and achieved a response rate of over 10% of the population. During this time ten focus group sessions, with over 80 community members, took place that brought together various interest groups related to trails, recreation, arts, culture, events, environmental, accommodations, developers and more.


  • 83% of the participates live in Fernie full-time with an average time of living in Fernie at 15 years
  • 67% were 50 years of age or younger, 33% were over
  • 69% did not work directly in the tourism sector, yet 48% do earn some level of income from tourism


  • The local business survey participants were the owner/operator or senior managers of the business
  • 88% of the businesses indicated that more than 25% of their revenue is from tourism. Over 60% of businesses indicated over 50% is from tourism
  • 16% were accommodators, 40% restaurants/retail, 31% attractions/arts/activities, 10% business services/education, 5% construction/real estate, 4% resource


Most are supportive of tourism, but not all. When residents were asked about whether the benefits of tourism outweigh the negative impacts 69% agreed, 17% were neutral and 14% disagreed

Top common benefits of tourism were:

  • Business, employment and income opportunities within tourism and related areas such as arts and culture
  • Increased access to recreational experiences, events, shops, restaurants, staff for businesses due to the community’s attractiveness as a place to live
  • Increased vibrancy and energy in the community, especially downtown as a result of activities / events and the number and diversity of people attracted to the community

Top common challenges of tourism were:

  • Overcrowding / at capacity at peak times and across multiple areas, and over use of some natural areas
  • Future risk of losing community authenticity / small town feel
  • Availability and affordability of places to live in Fernie
  • Variable / seasonal visitation throughout the year impacting business success and staff retention year-round

Over 65% of residents indicated there is more capacity to grow visitation during the spring and fall seasons, yet less than 40% indicated there was room to grow summer and winter visitation. Businesses indicated over 83% and 50% respectively

Who is responsible for ensuring that tourism develops in a way that supports community goals?

Residents indicated – 94% City of Fernie, 86% Tourism Fernie, 72% Fernie Alpine Resort, 71% locals and businesses, 64% Fernie Chamber of Commerce

Businesses indicated – 94% Tourism Fernie, 83% City of Fernie, 77% Local Businesses and Fernie Alpine Resort, 71% Fernie Chamber of Commerce, 69% Provincial Government, 67% Residents

Resident Comment from Survey:

“A vibrant town visited by domestic & international tourists that still has the community feel and the values we share now. I wouldn’t like Fernie to lose the special feel it has now, ie. Not becoming Banff or Whistler. Finding a healthy balance between being a destination for people to visit but not losing the special feeling.”

Resident Comment from Survey:

“More people coming here to enjoy the great biking, hiking and winter sports we have to offer and appreciate the clean outdoor environment we have. I can see fall and spring getting busier as well as summer, businesses benefiting, increased trail networks and some more indoor rainy day facilities / activities.”

Business Comment from Survey:

“Balanced investment with a focus on impeccable execution. Targeted regional visitors willing to respectfully contribute to our local vibe (and economy) while enjoying a small town boutique type of experience. I would like to see diverse tourism opportunities that do not overwhelm one single sector and tip the scales towards a single ‘crowd’ in our community. Fernie is more than just skiing and mountain biking… let’s celebrate the diverse recreational opportunities and history of this place.”

Business Comment from Survey:

“People are visiting Fernie to enjoy the outdoor activities, and increased level of family activities within the city.  Levels are very much increased, but sustainable.   The trails are not jam packed, as more systems have been created, giving more choice.   Businesses are busy, shoulder seasons have been depleted, giving a foundation year-round.  The largest market visiting Fernie is still from Alberta, with increased levels in the peak seasons from Ontario, United States and Australia / UK.”

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Open House Well Attended

Over 85 people attended the Tourism Master Plan Open House on September 18th to learn more about this new intiative just launched. Response to the initiative was very well received as everyone understands the need for a tourism master plan that will help address growth, opportunities, issues, impacts, marketing and management.

TMP Open House HandOut

Attendees included:
– Local residents
– Accommodators
– LGBTQ Community & Fernie Pride Society
– Teck
– Fernie Chamber of Commerce
– City of Fernie
– Regional District of East Kootenay
– Tourism Fernie
– Fernie Mountain Bike Club
– Fernie Trails Alliance
– Local Adventure Operators
– Resorts (Island Lake, Fernie Alpine)
– Local Cultural Organizations (Arts Council, Museum, Library, artisans)
– Food/Dining/Beverage Sector
– Retail sector
– Construction, Reno, Prop Mgnt & developer sector
– Kootenay Rockies Tourism
– Fernie Golf Club
– Fernie Pets Society
– Fernie Nordic Society
– Wildsight
– Columbia Basin Trust
– Candidates running for mayor/council
– Local Events/Festivals (Wapiti, Griz Days, Pride Fest, Chautauqua)
– Additional local businesses, consultants, transportation providers, media, financial

More details and updates will be posted on this website and sent via email. To be added to the email database please email us at

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Value of Tourism in Fernie

Tourism Fernie, in partnership with Destination BC conducted a Value of Tourism Study in 2016-2017. Developed through Destination BC’s Research, Planning and Evaluation Department.


Having an understanding of tourism’s economic contribution to a community is central to developing an informed tourism planning approach, strengthening the support of community stakeholders and local government, and encouraging an appreciation of tourism’s economic development potential.


Developed through DBC’s Research, Planning & Evaluation Department, The Value of Tourism Model is a program that provides a structured, consistent approach to estimate the volume and value of tourism in a community. Data gathered focused on the years 2014-2016, with the inclusion of 2017 data as available.


A detailed study of this nature had never been completed for Fernie and has been determined to be an essential tool needed to support the local tourism industry in understanding its contributions to the overall economy. Business, especially the accommodation sector, participation was essential for this study.

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