The Abbotsford Visitor Centre located on DeLair Road is now permanently closed.
Tourism Abbotsford confirmed to The News that the centre was sold to Archway Community Services a few months ago and they are now focusing more on visitor services being mobile.
Craig Nichols, the executive director for Tourism Abbotsford, stated that visitors to the centre have declined in recent years despite an increase in overnight hotel visitations.
Visitors to the AVC in 2015 were 8,986, and in 2019 the number dropped to 3,818. During this same time period overnight visitation increased 41 per cent.
“Declining visitor information numbers has been an industry trend across the country for years, driven by smartphones and the easy access to online info,” Nichols said. “It finally got to the point for us where it simply wasn’t making any financial sense to keep the doors open. Instead, we’ve focussed more the past couple of years on being mobile and being out in the community at events, parks, attractions, etc., and trying to find visitors where they are.”
An Abbotsford News story from 2018 notes that the AVC was closed that winter due to low attendance.
He pointed out that Tourism Abbotsford also re-established a visitor services presence at the Abbotsford International Airport in 2018. The DeLair centre had been in use since around 2004.
Nichols said visitor services are now 100 per cent mobile and recommended people follow Tourism Abbotsford on their social media channels to see where the team will be and what they are up to.
They have no plans to open another physical visitor services building, but Nichols said plans prior to the pandemic included getting a tiny home of some sort that could be pulled behind a pickup truck and set up at various locations around Abbotsford. The idea would be to set up at locations such as Sevenoaks Shopping Centre or Tradex during events.
“The goal of course being to be in front of and as accessible to as many people as possible instead of waiting for them to visit us at a physical bricks and mortar location,” he said.
Nichols said those plans can hopefully come to fruition in the future with the recovery of tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unclear what plans ACS has for the building, but The News has asked ACS for a comment. Nichols said he believes they will be running programming out of the building.
He also told The News that Tourism Abbotsford is moving its offices from Tradex to the Centennial Building in downtown Abbotsford.
“Though the office won’t be ‘open to the public’ there, we will be much more accessible and can arrange to meet people there who are in need of maps/guides, etc.,” he stated. “With this in mind, it was again going to be cost prohibitive to be operating two locations.”