Of the 340 delegates visiting Prince George this week, a show of hands at the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Conference determined 80 per cent of them had never visited the city before.
To kick off the three-day conference Wednesday night, the convention crowd converged on Otway Nordic Centre and about 60 of them took up the opportunity to strap on equipment provided by the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club for a night of skiing and snowshoeing to find out what local residents do to make winter fun.
“How incredible is it that you have all these tourism people and hoteliers that have never been here before and now they know the beauty of Prince George,” said Kelowna resident Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of the BC Hotel Association.
“We were in that gorgeous outdoor space (at the nordic centre) last night for the opening reception and everybody loved it, it was really nice. What we’re selling for Canada is places like you have, these beautiful wide-open spaces and beautiful waterfalls and cross-country skiing in the wilderness.”
The conference, which wraps up today, is being held north of Kelowna for the first time in its history.
“Everybody’s having a blast,” said Walt Judas of Victoria, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia. “People are excited to be here and this is what they came to experience, the true north, and having the weather we’ve had with the cold, snow, sun, wind, is obviously a characteristic of the north.
“Each time I visit the north it affirms for me just how wonderful the people are. Everybody we meet and talk to loves it here in Prince George and they’re all treating us like royalty.”