Baillie House reveals visitor numbers for first quarter of 2024 and looks forward to second quarter.

The Baillie House saw 2,505 visitors from January to March, an 8.6 per cent decrease from Q1 2023.

According to the quarter report, this decrease was “due to the weather, gas prices and cost of food,” correlating the data with a lack of snowfall for tourists wanting to go skiing or snowmobiling.

January saw 660 visitors, February saw 762 visitors, and March saw 1,342 visitors, totalling to 2,505 total visitors in Q1, an 8.6 per cent decrease from Q1 2023.

Of the visitors, 77 per cent were B.C. residents, nine per cent were Alberta residents, seven per cent from the rest of Canada, and the remaining seven per cent were divided between Asia, Australia, the U.S. and Europe.

Of those 2,505 visitors, only 12 per cent stayed for one night and another 12 per cent stayed for two or more nights. The remaining 76 per cent left on the same day.

Fifty one per cent of Baillie House visitors were there for shopping and 21 per cent for maps or directions. Eight per cent were there for attractions.

“For the first quarter of 2024, the trends in each of these categories was relatively stable. More visitors stopped at our site from B.C. and the rest of Canada when compared to the numbers in the first quarter of 2023,” read the report. “There was a 5 per cent increase in the number of visitors asking for local maps and about local attractions.”

The report then goes on to state “the number of Canadian travelers from other provinces increased to 17 per cent in 2024.” This year’s first quarter saw more European visitors and less American visitors when contrasted with Q1 2023.

The cost to operate the Baillie House during the first financial quarter; including wages, heat, light, repairs, internet, phones and more; totaled to $20,161.73. “This does not include the $14,000 that the Heritage Society will be receiving from the City for this quarter,” reads the report. “The additional funds will see us through the ‘expensive’ period from May to September when we are open every day and have more staff on duty every day.”

Looking forward to Q2, the Nicola Valley Heritage Society will be hiring two summer students who will complete the new Visitor Information Counsellor training course as soon as they begin working.

The Baillie House is currently raising funds to replace or repair wood rot in the window frames on the house itself.

Additionally, the Baillie House will be adding two large picnic tables, however, will be limiting flowers this year due to water shortage.

“The Heritage Society staff and volunteers are looking forward to facing the challenge of continuing to host the Merritt Visitor Centre,” read the quarter report’s closing statement. “We hope to see more visitors stopping at our downtown business to shop and eat, visit our art centre, library, museum, and explore Merritt and the beautiful Nicola Valley.”