Tourist stops at Baillie House largely static
The Merritt Visitor Information Centre at the Baillie House is hoping to tie last year’s number of visitors, and is on pace to do just that.
Sandy Curnow, manager of the Baillie House on Voght Street, said September’s visitor count is promising in her quest to tie 2011’s 15,000 visitors.
“We had 2,300 visitors in September, and we’re up to 11,000 now for the year,” she said.
The majority of visitors come from B.C., followed by Europe, the rest of Canada, and then Asia and Australia.
Over half of the people who visited the Baillie House this summer were passing through Merritt.
“Most of the people are going to Banff and Jasper,” she said. “A lot of the Europeans do an Alaskan cruise and either after or before their cruise they rent a car and drive to Banff or Jasper.”
Some of those who are just passing through the city return to Baillie House on their future travels, she added.
“There’s people that come every year. On their holidays, they make it a point to stop and have lunch in the yard here. We’ve seen their kids go from little babies to teenagers,” she said.
Curnow said the visitor information centre’s mission to provide a warm welcome to Merritt draws people back.
“Lots of people say that it’s very unique. The other day we had coffee with two guys from New Zealand who said we were the friendliest visitor centre that they’ve been to. We have had people from England come in and say their friends told them they had to stop in here when they went by.”
Curnow said getting people to stop downtown on their way through is an objective she and her volunteers want to address.
“We’re always trying to get more people to come to downtown Merritt, so we’ve been talking to bus drivers to see if they would come downtown, but it’s hard,” she said. “They stop for coffee and continue on their way. It’s great if people come here and we offer them free coffee, tea, iced tea and lemonade because then we can talk to them and hopefully they will stay overnight, either this time or next time they come through.
“It gives us a chance to tell tourists what Merritt has to offer for them.”
The Baillie House property has remained relatively unchanged since the early 1900s.