While slightly behind schedule due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Tourism Discovery Centre is now officially open for business.
Normally targeting the May long weekend to open full time, Sunday, May 31 marked the centre’s shift to seven days a week and, with that, also welcomed three summer students into the fold.
Williams Lake’s Vanessa Bunce, 18, and Kaylee Billyboy, 22, will be the TDC’s vistor centre counsellors, while Amelia Ives, 19, back for her second year working for the summer at the TDC, will be the centre’s social media marketing co-ordinator.
Jaylyn Byer, the executive assistant supervisor at the TDC, said they are happy to be able to provide work for three students over the summer months.
“I’ve been here 15 years and we’ve managed to have students every year, so it’s exciting,” Byer said, noting grant funding has allowed the TDC to provide the opportunity. “As of Friday (June 5) we are one of 33 tourism centres open out of 130 in the province.”
Ives recently finished her first year of a business degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and is looking forward to spending the summer back at home.
“We’re not getting international travellers right now because of COVID so it has changed the way we’re doing things a bit,” she said.
“We’re taking a lot more safety precautions, but I’m looking forward to getting to know and talk to the different people that pass through here.”
Bunce said she’s excited to use the position as a way to educate herself more about the area.
“Not only here but all of B.C., and I’m hoping this will help me with my tourism degree I’m taking at TRU in Kamloops,” she said, noting she recently completed her first year.
Billyboy, who was crowned Williams Lake Stampede Queen in 2017, said being able to share information about the region to guests and locals, alike, is a welcome treat.
“I’m always looking forward to learning more about Williams Lake and the province, and hoping I can share what I already know with guests,” she said.
The TDC also houses the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin with displays on the main floor and the lower level.
Byer, meanwhile, said things have been somewhat quiet, however, added things are starting to pick up.
“People are still travelling,” she said. “We’re seeing people start to come through so that’s a good thing. It’s busier than we thought it would be.”
She said several added safety precautions are being taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“We are social distancing, and practicing COVID practices,” Byer said. “We’re doing a lot more cleaning, and have a sani station set up for people when they come in.”
She also thanked Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty for his support in helping them to be able to hire summer students to work until the end of August, especially during these uncertain economic times.
The TDC is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.