The Delta Visitor Centre, operated by the Delta Chamber of Commerce, saw a decline in the number of visitors for the third year in a row in 2012.
An annual report by the chamber noted the visitor centre, located at the corner of 60th Avenue and 62B Street, saw a total 2,131 visitors in 2012, a six per cent drop from the previous year.
In 2011, the centre had a 12 per cent decrease from 2010 visits, while in 2010 the centre experienced a four per cent decrease from 2009.
The report notes that, once again, the U.S. and global economy, cost of gas, a large new visitor centre at the Peace Arch crossing and access to web services are among the reasons for the downward trend.
The single biggest user group of the visitor centre, representing 65 per cent of the total visits, were residents of Delta and the surrounding area.
Despite the decline, the centre maintained its level of service of 2,000 hours throughout the year.
The peak period for visitors was during July and August. The report notes some centres in the province close during the winter, but the Delta Chamber of Commerce provides the service year-round.
The chamber has been operating the Tourism B.C.-accredited centre, co-sponsored by the municipality and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, on behalf of Delta since 2001. It's part of a network of more than 100 similar centres throughout the province.
The report notes the Delta numbers for 2012 over 2011 still compare "somewhat more favourably" to trends for the Vancouver Coast Mountain Tourism Region, as well as all of B.C., which have seen even bigger drops.
Delta council recently approved another $47,500 in operating funding for the centre for 2013.
Noting the province provides money for the municipality to undertake tourism promotion, chamber executive director Peter Roaf told the Optimist that while the number of visitors were down, the total number of parties (two or more people) was up at the centre.
Since Delta doesn't have a separate tourism authority, the centre provides a valuable service in letting people know some of the things to do and see locally, he said.
Noting a local group, which includes chamber representation, is looking at tourism marketing opportunities, he said the huge mall development at the Tsawwassen First Nation could provide additional benefits.
The Delta Chamber of Commerce also maintains tourism pages on its website, which have been upgraded to provide more comprehensive information.
Last year, Coun. Sylvia Bishop said the municipality needs "a champion" to promote and market its many tourism attractions. The first-term civic politician asked staff to look at the possibility of joining other areas to market the region.
Asked this week if there are any plans to ramp up marketing efforts, Coun.
Robert Campbell said Delta is a day trip community, so it's been difficult to figure out a way to provide more benefit to businesses.
"That's always an interesting question: What to do about tourism? We had Tourism Delta try their hands at it a few years ago and I understand they're still having meetings, but they haven't been able to really pull any viable program together. We looked at having our own tourism committee and doing it through the (municipal) hall but it turned out to go nowhere," he said.
"The consensus conclusion, because it hasn't been formally discussed in at least a year, is that tourism in Delta is really something that happens as a day trip destination. The businesses that exist in Delta are not going to benefit any more from any dedicated marketing campaign on tourism."