Over the past year, we've been introducing you to our valuable Board members, who volunteer their time and expertise to provide strong leadership and guidance to Tourism Kelowna. 

Kelly Watt

Kelly Watt

Kelly Watt has worked in the hospitality industry for over 40 years, starting in the lower mainland while she was in high school. From there, she worked briefly for Delta Hotels in Ontario before being transferred back to BC, where she worked at the Delta Hotel in Richmond for about 20 years. In 2005, Kelly joined the Sandman Hotel Group when they purchased the Richmond property, and a year later, she moved from the lower mainland to Kelowna, where she led the Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna team. Today, she continues her career with Sandman Hotel Group as Director of Sustainability Projects.

"Our company has introduced this role to focus on coordinating and accelerating sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives at our hotels in the interest of reducing our carbon emissions," notes Watt. "My role is to centralize these initiatives and support our Canadian hotel properties in implementing them operationally."

Kelly was first elected to Tourism Kelowna's Board in 2019; currently, during her second term, she is Board Chair as part of the Executive Committee and Co-Chair of the Board Development Committee.

What made you decide to get involved with Tourism Kelowna’s Board of Directors?

The hospitality industry has provided me with rewarding and consistent employment for decades and continues to engage and maintain my passion for this business. With the benefits I have gained from the tourism industry, it feels only right to give back with volunteer time to support and promote this for Kelowna. The teamwork and network of different tourism segments represented by the membership and the Board of Directors is inspirational, engaging, and offers continuing education.  

What unique perspective do you bring to the Board? How do you see yourself adding value for Tourism Kelowna members?

I have decades of experience in hospitality and been fortunate enough to work in a variety of markets and sectors, and with evolving technology, circumstances, and opportunities. In addition to the hospitality experience, I have had the opportunity to build DEI skill sets and sustainability understanding in our company's development programs, which translate across our industry.  

What advice do you have for other industry members considering running for a position on the Board?

I would advise anyone with a passion for the industry and an on-going curiosity about and commitement to making it better to participate on the Board. There is great sharing of perspectives and ideas and continuous learning about the bigger picture. Listening to all involved helps everyone grow. 

Aside from economic impact, what value does tourism bring to the communities in and around Kelowna?

Obviously, in addition to the economic impact, tourism brings jobs of all levels and growth opportunities for our employees as well as a wealth of diversity of cultures and backgrounds both in our employees and our visitors. Tourism opens up a wide variety of entrepreneurial opportunities for small, medium, and large businesses.  

What are the top three activities/attractions you like to do in and around Kelowna?

I love walking the trestles and the boardwalk, spending time in the parks, and visiting the wineries and wide array of excellent independent restaurants. Kelowna Actors' Studio is also a personal favourite. 


I started my hospitality career at 15 as a ''Cabin Boy'' on a converted missionary boat called the SS Columbian. It had been converted to an almost luxury charter boat that took folks out on week-long fishing charters up the coast of BC. Great scenery, long days, and hard work!  But I didn't have to clean the fish ;) 

Tourism Kelowna Members are encouraged to contact Kelly at kwatt@sandman.ca with any Board-related questions or to provide your input on Tourism Kelowna's work, including its 2022-2025 Strategic Plan