For the past three months, the tourism sector has been deeply impacted by the necessary and important health and travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19. Given the likelihood that interprovincial travel restrictions may soon be lifted as part of the pending Phase 3 provincial reopening, we wanted to gauge Kelowna residents’ comfort levels with tourists and marketing timing.

Tourism Kelowna conducted a Resident Sentiment Survey in the first week of June and garnered significant response, with almost 620 surveys completed within 3 days. Comprised of 12 questions, the survey was designed to measure the level of comfort Kelowna residents feel in welcoming back visitors from a range of geographic locations.

The responses show that the closer the geographic location our visitors come from, the more comfortable our locals are with welcoming them back at this time:

  • Close to 80% of residents were happy to see regional visitors.
  • 69% were comfortable with visitors from within BC.
  • 53% were comfortable with welcoming visitors from Western Canada but only 35% would welcome visitors from the rest of Canada.
  • Only about 15% of residents would be ready to welcome back travellers from the USA or further abroad.

These results support Tourism Kelowna's strategic focus on regional and provincial marketing this summer. Additional surveys may take place this summer, as resident sentiment is a key input in our plans to expand marketing in slow and steady steps, following the recommendations of our Provincial health authorities. 

Safe and positive health conditions, combined with resident support and business-readiness are the three vital conditions required for the tourism industry’s long-term economic recovery,

Each year, over 1.8 million overnight visitors spend over $337 million at local businesses. Overall, tourism is a $1.25 billion industry locally, responsible for approximately 12,000 jobs, and a key contributor to the outstanding quality of life we all enjoy in the Okanagan.