KAMLOOPS — Search out "Kamloops" on most social media platforms and one thing becomes immediately clear: Canada's Tournament Capital is a mecca for high-caliber mountain biking.
As one example, mountain biker Jordan Olthuis (known as "Jordan Boostmaster") posted a video to Youtube Wednesday of a ride at the Kamloops Bike Ranch.
Olthuis' YouTube channel has more than 89,000 subscribers and within two days the 15-minute, multi-camera video quickly garnered more than 26,000 views and more than 1,000 likes.
WATCH: Jordan Olthuis "sends it huge" at the Kamloops Bike Ranch (Video Credit: YouTube / Jordan Boostmaster)
While it's hardly a viral sensation, those totals represent a lot of eyes on what Kamloops has to offer mountain biking enthusiasts.
Tourism Kamloops Director of Industry Relations and Communications Monica Dickinson says a 2015 economic impact study found mountain biking brought about $3.5 million into the local economy.
Dickinson says that's a drop in the bucket compared to the $500 million annual windfall from tourism, but she maintains it's still very important to the region.
"They love our conditions here. Our trails are fast and flowy. The downhill product, you look at the likes of Harper Mountain and what's happening at Sun Peaks, there's some really great downhill trail stuff happening," said Dickinson.
"The commitment of the city, too. Looking at the Kamloops Bike Ranch, that in itself is a gem. To have that right in our municipal area is a huge coup."
While local mountain biking infrastructure wasn't necessarily built to attract visitors, it's doing just that.
"One of the comments that I hear is, 'the mountain biking scene was built by locals for locals,' but they've also been very warm and welcoming to sharing their backyard," said Dickinson, who notes Kamloops is considered the second-most prestigious mountain biking spot in B.C.
"There is still a ton of competition. You look around British Columbia and who else is vying for the eye of the mountain biker? Whistler is top of the rung, Squamish, Vancouver's North Shore, Golden and Rossland. But when we did our economic impact analysis and looked at the spending that was happening in Kamloops, we came in second to Whistler," said Dickinson.
Tourism Kamloops figures show about 7300 people visit the region every year solely to ride the hills and catch the Kamloops air.
Dickinson says high profile riders like Olthuis give Kamloops extra clout in the tight-knit mountain biking community.
"To have Catherine Pendrel living in the community, playing in the community, training in the community... she's known on the world stage and in the Olympic circle and that's amazing. Brett Tippie has been another one who has been a huge advocate, comes back and participates with Tourism Kamloops as we do our marketing, and really gives some credibility to the experience we have here."
As the calendar approaches fall, mountain biking becomes even more important to the local tourism sector.
Dickinson says that's because fall is prime time for the activity here in Kamloops.
"When we look at seasonality of experiences from a tourism perspective, we know that Kamloops is very busy in July and August," said Dickinson. "Another reason why Tourism Kamloops looks to mountain biking as a key experience in marketing is the best mountain biking happens in spring and fall here in Kamloops. So it's a propensity to drive business in the shoulder seasons."
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