A report to Merritt City Council at its most recent regular meeting shows that the number of visitors stopping in the Nicola Valley is up overall through the first six months of 2023.

The Merritt Visitor Information Centre at the historic Baillie House property on Voght Street is owned and operated by the Nicola Valley Heritage Society (NVHS), a non-profit that runs the visitor centre with raised funds and some City of Merritt tourism dollars. The centre is run by three full-time staff, volunteers, and summer students during the warmer months. The society provided more than 900 employment hours during the second quarter of 2023. 

The NVHS said in their report to Council at its July 25 regular meeting that the total number of visitors for the first six months of 2023 was 9471, representing a slight increase from the number of visitors in 2022, which was 9388. The report notes that there was an increase in visitors from Asia, Australia, and other parts of Canada.  

“For the first time since COVID-19 hit, we had four tour buses stop at our site,” reads the report. “The Heritage Society also hosted seven classes of elementary children for tours of our heritage site and to play heritage games.”

The site’s Q2 numbers show that B.C. residents made up 62 per cent of visitors, with Alberta at 13 per cent, and the rest of Canada representing 10 per cent. Seven percent of visitors hailed from Europe, while Asia and Australia held five per cent. Three percent of visitors to the Baillie House during Q2 were from the U.S.

Visitors to the Nicola Valley also appear to be staying longer, even if their visit is limited to a single day, according to the heritage society. A vast majority of visitors, or 82 per cent, were visiting Merritt for just one day. Travellers spending a single night represented 10 per cent of total visitors, while only eight per cent were staying two or more nights. 

“For the second quarter of 2023, the number of visitors asking about shopping and attractions  increased,” added the report. “Travellers tended to be going greater distances and so were looking to see what Merritt has to offer even if they were only here for a few hours. There continued to be little available accommodation as the hotels and motels are full of contractors.”

In addition to the Q2 data, highlights, and goals included in the report, the NVHS noted that the visitor information centre is looked after by volunteers, who have received many compliments in recent months. The society has also recently completed the installation of a mileage post for visitors to take selfies under.

For more information on the Merritt Visitor Information Centre at the Baillie House, visit the site at 2250 Voght St., or call at 250-378-0349.