Eight years after leaving to see the world, Lyndie Hill realized the best place to put her passion to work by building a business in the field of adventure tourism was right here in Penticton.
“It’s a massive industry in the whole world, and you come here and it’s a mecca for it and nobody’s doing anything with it,” she said.
The 33-year-old graduated from Penticton Secondary School in 1998 and soon after set out backpacking in Australia, Europe and Asia.
Once finished travelling, she settled down for seven years in New Zealand, where she trained to become an outdoor recreation instructor.
She missed B.C., however, and moved back to Penticton with her husband, Mike, in 2007, and soon after registered their company, Hoodoo Adventures.
Six years later, the business employs two people year-round and up to five in the summertime to take customers on guided outdoor excursions like kayaking, hiking, biking, rock climbing and snowshoeing.
“It was a slow start, but we increased business by 50 per cent from last year to this year, so it’s been fantastic,” said Hill.
Besides staff needing certifications to lead people in such pursuits, adventure tourism companies also require sturdy insurance plans and must apply to the B.C. government for tenure on any Crown land on which they take clients.
Hill said the tenure application process required in part that the company use GPS to plot every trail that Hoodoo uses between here and the Kootenays, and to consult broadly with the public and First Nations.
“It’s just not as easy as you’d think it would be,” but “once all of those things were in place, it was much easier to grow the business,” she said, adding the regulatory process has also helped limit competition to just a handful of companies in the Okanagan, none as decorated as Hill’s business, however.
In 2010, Hoodoo Adventures took home top honours in the home-based business category of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards and was the 2012 winner in the hospitality and tourism segment.
Hill said her dream is to one day expand the the company into a dedicated outdoor adventure centre where people could register for trips and set out on some activities. For now, the mother of two, who’s expecting her third child any day, is content to work from home.
“Ideally to grow, we’d have to have another space, but right now with little kids, this works,” she said.
Tourism Penticton has worked closely with Hill for the past several years to help raise the company’s profile and a key contact there said the young entrepreneur has gotten ahead by getting to know people.
“She’s really focused on creating different partnerships in the community and believes that if everyone works together, everyone will benefit, and I think that’s really a strength,” said promotions and sales manager Tracy Reis.
“She’s not the first person doing adventure tourism here, but I think the difference with Lyndie is she is really ambitious and has a really big vision for adventure tourism.”
Reis pointed to Hill’s hand in the creation of events like the annual Elevator Race, in which people combine seven different sports to travel from Penticton to Apex Mountain, and the Freakn’ Farmer adventure race, which puts participants to work at Covert Farms, as evidence of those partnerships.
“Lyndie’s really ambitious and has a really big vision for adventure tourism,” Reis said.
“She tends to be one of those people who brings people together.”
Through Hoodoo Adventures, Hill has also created clubs to make some activities, like rock climbing and kayaking, more accessible to the community at large, and has undertaken fundraising efforts to provide outdoor adventure programs for children.
“We’ve allowed kids to do stuff they’ve never been able to do before,” she said. “It’s fun. And it has an impact on the community.”
Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by the Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation BC-Yukon.
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