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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Planning ‘The Plan’

Prior to the bustle of summer season a group of tourism industry stakeholders met for a Tourism Master Plan (TMP) Planning Session with consultant Dan Wilson from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. The meeting objectives were:

  • Explore planning needs and a range of approaches and roles for tourism plans
  • Understand key elements of Fernie’s success at tourism, what could be, and what might hold Fernie back
  • Identify the key outcomes for a Tourism Master Plan and the Process for Fernie BC
  • Identify the scope for a Tourism Master Plan process based on the key outcomes

Attendees included:

Shelley L’Estrange – General Manager of Best Western Plus Fernie Mountain Lodge
Norm McInnis – CAO of the City of Fernie
Mary Giuliano – Mayor of the City of Fernie
Scott Gilmet – Director of Marketing & Sales of IGS Group (Park Place Lodge, Griz Inn & Cornerstone Lodge)
Brad Parsell – General Manager of Fernie Lodging Company
Andy Cohen – General Manager of Fernie Alpine Resort
Mike McPhee – Director of Sales & Marketing of Island Lake Resort Group
Reto Barrington – Developer & Owner of Fernie RV Resort
Kurt Saari – Owner of Nevados Restaurant
Vanessa Croome – Co-owner of Fernie Fix & Chair of the Fernie Arts Council
Jikke Gyorki – Executive Officer & TMP Coordinator, Tourism Fernie
Christine Grimble – Session Note Taker, TMP Assistant, Tourism Fernie

Regrets from: Patty Vadnais, Fernie Chamber & Derick Berry, Fernie Property Care

The results of this session helped to develop the project workplan, timeline and Task Force Terms of Reference.

More details to come.

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