The tourism industry in Kelowna is important for not only the city’s economy but also the quality of life for residents, which is why the industry’s many contributions are being celebrated during Tourism Week.
Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna said tourism is a vital part of everyday lives.
“Economic impact from tourism generates revenue for local businesses, creates jobs for residents, and generates tax revenue that is reinvested back into our community,” she explained.
The tourism industry’s economic impact has grown steadily in Kelowna and the Central Okanagan with 2019 reaching new heights. More than 1.8 million overnight visitors grew Kelowna’s average hotel occupancy to 65.7 per cent – the highest on record – with 10 of 12 months posting increases over the previous year.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the growth seen in 2019 has come to a halt in 2020.
“Each local business in the Central Okanagan tourism industry has already demonstrated incredible resiliency after bouncing back from challenging years with high water levels and smoke from wildfires,” said Ballantyne.
“Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 is very likely the biggest crisis many local tourism businesses have had to face, and the rebound will take time to restore.”
Despite the current challenges, the industry does have some wins to celebrate. From the beautiful landscape of the Okanagan to delicious local food and wine scene, to the year-round activities, there is a lot to acknowledge in the valley.
“We all have a favourite restaurant, winery, golf course, or other local business, and their business is supported by residents and visitors. We’re very fortunate that the tourism industry is appreciated here in the Okanagan, as tourism and hospitality are very much a part of who we are and what makes this place special,” said Ballantyne.
To cap off Tourism Week, Tourism Kelowna is introducing “Show Your Love for Kelowna Day” on May 30. Residents are encouraged to support local businesses, show appreciation to those that work in the industry, share content about their favourite places and spaces on social media by tagging #exploreKelownalocal, and proudly show off their Kelowna and Okanagan apparel.