The busy tourist season has arrived in Chemainus and Emily Weeks is more than ready for it.
Weeks, 22, is the new Chemainus Visitor Centre manager, but not exactly new to the Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce office downtown, having worked as a tourism summer student from Vancouver Island University last year.
“It was wonderful,” she said of that experience.
“I’m very lucky to have stepped into a position like this right out of school.”
“We are very lucky to have her and I’ve already told her she’s chained to the chair,” quipped Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce executive director Lori Frankson.
Weeks possesses all the credentials and more. She’s officially graduating from the VIU Tourism Management Program at the end of the year, formerly served as a Ladysmith Ambassador during her high school days, knows her way around a camera with great photography skills and loves this community.
“I always thought I was going to be a photojournalist,” Weeks pointed out.
“I realized how much I loved tourism and the industry.”
The fields are actually related in so many ways and her personality also fits the job description to a T.
Weeks was born in Duncan and raised in Ladysmith. When people who’ve been around the area for a while hear her last name, they immediately ask about a former art teacher at Chemainus Secondary School.
And, yes, Ken Weeks, who was at the school for 30 years, is her grandfather. And her grandmother Ruth Strang taught kindergarten and Grade 1 in Chemainus for a few years as well.
“With both of them being teachers, education was incredibly important for them,” Weeks explained. “They created an education fund for each of their grandchildren to go to university, which is a big reason I was able to take the Tourism Management Program and develop my passion for community development. It feels good to be able to work in a community they loved very much.”
Weeks was a Ladysmith Ambassador in 2014-15, a program she’s already found beneficial in many ways since then.
“I’m still on the committee,” she added. “It’s all about self-growth, public speaking and promoting self-confidence.”
Weeks also worked as a kayak guide for Sealegs Kayaking during her high school years and graduated from Ladysmith Secondary School in 2015.
She took a couple of years off after high school and spent part of that hiatus travelling through Europe before starting in the VIU Tourism Management Program.
Transitioning into her new job has been a smooth one and a logical next step.
“I love it,” Weeks enthused. “It feels right. I’m excited to work with the businesses.
“We’re so lucky to have the numbers (of visitors) we have already. It’s going to be fun to be a part of making them grow.”
Weeks began her post April 23 and said she’s working with Frankson on several significant changes.
“We want to make our social media presence a lot larger,” she cited as an example.
Three grant applications were accepted for summer students this year that will allow for more direct services to guests through a bus greeter team and events coordination.
“That’ll give us a lot of room to start our changes quickly,” conceded Weeks.
“I’m excited. We have lots of ideas for development and growth.”