It’s the classic Rossland story: “We came here on holiday and loved the place so much we decided to stay.” And when asked what people love, two of the top answers are Red Mountain and the mountain biking trails.
The trail systems, managed by the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS), and specifically the Seven Summits Trail, are major draws for locals and visitors alike.
But determining the economic value of this sport to Rossland has been difficult.
With funding from the Research, Planning and Evaluation branch at the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, the Columbia Basin Trust and Tourism Rossland, a survey is being conducted, profiling visiting mountain bikers and determining the economic impacts.
“My primary objective is to interview tourists,” said Tom Flood who was hired for the summer to conduct the survey. “We hope to assess the economic impact of mountain biking as an important tourism draw.”
Situating himself at various trail heads, and occasionally downtown, Flood uses a palm pilot to collect data. He asks visiting bikers about their experience on the trail network, as well as their spending habits while visiting the area.
“(Tourists) say our trails are awesome,” he said. “They’re definitely happy with the condition of the trails and how well they are maintained.”
KCTS director Anthony Bell said the surveys will also help the society when it goes for funding.
“Half the people using Rossland’s mountain bike trails last year were tourists,” he said.
“Many came because they heard about the Seven Summits Trail. Once they got here, they said they didn’t realize just how much biking there was here.”
The study is a partnered project between Tourism British Columbia, part of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Tourism Rossland, Rossland Sustainability Commission and Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Assocation.
Results of the survey will enhance market intelligence so the community can plan for continued development of mountain biking trails and products.
The Rossland surveys will be computed with surveys from other areas so trends can be watched and Rossland will be able to compare itself with other biking communities.
Martin Littlejohn, President of Western Mountain Bike Tourism Association said the study will not only help understand the economic benefits from mountain bikers visiting to the area, “but will also represent an example of the value of trails to communities in B.C.”
Watch for results of the study later this fall.
For more information about initiatives of the Visions to Action: Sustainability Commission visit www.visionstoaction.ca