As the global health emergency continues to impact the tourism industry, Tourism Kelowna continues to gather data and intelligence in order to monitor its local impact. 

Local Industry Performance

During the month of October, Kelowna once again saw an increase in overnight trips to the region with a total of 167,470, which represents an increase of 30.9% year over year (YOY). In the ten months ending in October 2020, Kelowna has seen an increase of 5.2% in overnight visitors to the area, with a total of 1,642,460. 

Accommodators in the area, however, continue to show a decline in occupancies. With an average occupancy of 38.6%, hotels in October saw a decrease of 29.7 points YOY,  leading to a yearly average of 43.8%, which is 25.6 points below the same period in 2019. Three new hotels opened their doors in 2020 in Kelowna, contributing slightly to the decline in numbers. 

As a desirable summer destination, Kelowna's accommodators registered occupancies consistently higher than the provincial average through the summer months, and thus was a leading destination for domestic travel. Colder than usual temperatures and early snowfalls in October, however, impacted bookings to the area and will continue to affect the fall and winter seasons. November through to March have traditionally been the slowest months in terms of overnight visitation and visitor spending. 

When looking at the data, consumer trends begin to emerge. Overnight visitors are choosing smaller and more intimate accommodations such as Airbnbs, camping, or bed & breakfasts, or staying with friends and family, rather than the more traditional options such as hotels, motels, and resorts. Lead times and booking windows continue to shorten, and time researching destinations has increased significantly. This serves as a reminder to make sure your website and social media are updated regularly not only with inspiring messaging but also with information regarding your COVID-19 measures and procedures. 

Passengers travelling through the airport have also decreased steadily throughout the year. In the ten months ending in October, there has been a 61% drop in passengers. This shows that being a drive-to market has been very beneficial for the Central Okanagan, with the majority of visitors arriving by vehicle.

Visit our Monthly Industry Indicators page for a month-by-month breakdown of our research. 

National Performance

The consulting firm CBRE Hotels recently released a Q3 2020 industry update report. The tourism industry was hoping for higher summer travel demand to try and make up for the impacts of the spring; however, this did not materialize. Average occupancies in the country only reached 40% in the key months of July and August. The CBRE report, which you can access here, delves into the financial repercussions for operators and presents their recovery outlook to 2025.

Other national indicators include:

  • As of Q2, domestic airlines had lost 95% of revenue. 
  • As of Q2, tourism accommodations had lost 74.4% of revenue. 
  • Festivals and events cannot operate without visitor revenue. 

For more information, you can review Destination Canada's State of the Industry report

Other data resources

Our regional, provincial, and national counterparts also continue to provide timely data on resident sentiment, hotel occupancies, and visitation. 

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) publishes a biweekly research roundup post called "Fast Facts," which can be accessed on the TOTA website or delivered to your inbox by subscribing to TOTA's newsletters

Destination British Columbia (DBC) has a robust Research & Insights section on their website that includes COVID-19 Research Roundup Reports. Published weekly, these aggregate a large amount of BC-specific indicators that include hotel occupancy and visitation, resident sentiment, movement across BC, ferry volume, and airline bookings, just to name a few. You can find the weekly reports by clicking here or you can subscribe to their newsletter and receive it weekly. 

Destination Canada also has a COVID-19 specific research page that offers reports and insights from a national perspective. You can click here for more information or subscribe to their newsletters for timely information. 

For questions regarding local industry performance, please contact me at or (250) 861-1515 ext. 218.