While 2021 was not quite the year we'd hoped for, our Business Development team is heading into 2022 with renewed optimism, ready to execute our plans and build back group business in Kelowna and its surrounding communities. Several destination events are set to take place later in the year and we've had a number of leads come in already, most of which are continuing the trend of shorter lead times for smaller groups that will be staying longer, which will ultimately allow attendees to truly experience all our destination has to offer.

Late last year, our Sports & Events Business Development lead, Colin McGuinness, announced that Kelowna and Big White Ski Resort will host Spartan Race on August 27 – 28, 2022, bringing upwards of 5,000 racers from across Canada and the US to our region for this inaugural event. Tourism Kelowna and Big White hosted Spartan staff on a familiarization (FAM) tour last fall, working in partnership to secure this piece of business. Colin has also been working towards the return of a major music event, with a bid for the fall of 2023, and submitted a bid for a major cultural event for September 2025; both event organizers are expected to announce the selected destination later in 2022. In March 2022, Colin will be attending the Sport Event Congress—the largest gathering of Canada's sport tourism industry—to meet event organizers and sport organizations so he can pitch Kelowna as the ideal destination for their next tournament, event, or festival.  

Big White Spartan Race FAM Tour
Spartan Race FAM tour at Big White (Fall 2021)

This year will also see year two of the award-winning OKGo campaign, created in partnership with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission and Accelerate Okanagan, roll out. As we continue to share and celebrate stories of innovation and entrepreneurship, we will position our region's expertise within these fields, offering extra value to meeting attendees in the shape of aligned off-site events, site tours, and guest speakers. Sector-specific videos and a second edition of the OKGo magazine will be launched later in the year.  

Calgary-based Business Development Consultant, Nicolle Gomez de Sousa, will be focusing on our economic sector strategy to identify and pursue business meetings in agriculture, agrifoods, and technology as Alberta continues to diversify in other economic sectors. Once the cross-border travel advisory is lifted, she will be working with groups in the Pacific Northwest who have had their travel bans lifted and are researching safe and close-by destinations. Finally, Nicolle will be offering partnered events in the late spring or early fall in Calgary and Vancouver, targeting new executives from identified economic sectors and introducing them to Kelowna through the OKGo campaign, so they can learn more about the additional value business events in Kelowna and the Central Okanagan have to offer.  

Following suit, Toronto-based business Development Consultant, Pat Gappmayr, will also be focusing on our economic sector strategy in both Ontario and Quebec, targeting digital technology and manufacturing in her backyard and then expanding to aerospace in the Ottawa area. In Quebec, Pat will target agricultural and digital technology companies and share the stories from our OKGo campaign. Pat will be hosting a partnered event in the Toronto market specifically targeting executives in the digital technology and manufacturing industries and promoting the new non-stop flights between Montreal and Kelowna. With Western Canada and Kelowna being seen as a safe and attractive destination for those living in Eastern Canada, she will take advantage of all opportunities to share our outdoor spaces and present our community as a potential incentive destination for corporations.  

For more information on Tourism Kelowna's 2022 Business Development strategy, please email me at jennifer@tourismkelowna.com or call (250) 861-1515 ext. 205.  


Header Image: Taken at The Cove Lakeside Resort by Shawn Talbot Photography