Revelstoke Shows Strong Growth In Hotel Revenues

Revelstoke Mountain Resort Gondola.

Revelstoke sees higher hotel revenues than any other resort town in B.C. 

Revelstoke saw a 17 per cent increase in hotel room revenues between 2011 and 2012—more than any other resort town in B.C. The increase in hotel revenues is reflected in the amount of funding that B.C.’s 14 designated resort municipalities receive from a 2 per cent hotel room tax administered by the provincial government.

Whistler, Tofino, Sun Peaks, Fernie, Rossland, Ucluelet and Osoyoos are among the participants in the Resort Municipality Initiative, which redirects tax collected from overnight stays back to the resort towns.

Hit hard by the 2008 recession, B.C.’s resort communities have been making a slow but steady comeback in overnight revenues since 2010. New hotel openings in Revelstoke have helped growth, but the increase is driven primarily by higher visitor traffic, says Thom Tischik, marketing manager for Revelstoke’s accommodation association.

Alan Mason, director of community economic development for the municipality, says that the 2007 opening of Revelstoke Mountain Resort led to the long-term increase in the number of overnight visitors. Revelstoke, he says, has seen a 33 per cent increase in hotel room revenues since it began participating in the program in 2007. 

The resort development, a ten minute drive outside of Revelstoke’s historic town centre, saw a 40 per cent decrease in property prices through the recession. Thanks to the slump in property prices and nixed plans to expand the resort, about half of the resort’s built condos remain unsold, says Mason.

From resource town to destination resort 

A seven hour drive from Vancouver (five hours from Calgary), Revelstoke lies a considerable distance from its two major markets. Founded in 1880 as a Canadian Pacific Railway stopover en route to the coast, it’s economy is still anchored by the forestry industry, Parks Canada’s local operations, and services for CP and the Trans-Canada Highway. Tourism, however, has become more important in recent years.

Visitor traffic from the resort has revitalized Revelstoke’s historic town centre, which is populated with timber-frame heritage homes from its days as a mining hamlet. Coffee shops, ski gear outfitters and restaurants have since set up shop to service overnight visitors.

“Over the past two years, we’ve become more of a destination. Alberta is big for us, even the Okanagan. But over the past few years we’ve seen more long term visitors from Europe, Australia, Eastern Canada and the U.S.,” says Mason.

All the B.C. resort municipalities that participate in the hotel room tax program saw an increase in their 2012 funding, but Osoyoos, Fernie, and Sun Peaks saw increases of less than 3 per cent, while Tofino saw the smallest increase at 0.8 per cent.