To further showcase the importance of our local tourism industry, we are connecting with our stakeholders, industry partners, and other local businesses and organizations to find out more about what tourism means to them. In celebration of Kelowna Pride Week 2021, which runs from October 23 – 31, we connected with the Kelowna Pride Society and DunnEnzies Pizza Co., an LGBT2Q+ owned and operated local business that offers "a safe, inclusive and diverse space" for the community at all three of their Kelowna locations. 

Kelowna Pride Society

Contributed by Bobby Bissessar, Director, Communications

Kelowna Pride 2021 ImagePhoto Credit: Kelowna Pride Society

Q: What value does tourism bring to the LGBT2Q+ community in and around Kelowna? 
A: Kelowna Pride celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year with the theme "The Work is Not Done" and had its largest attendance back in 2019. In 2020, Kelowna Pride Society was one of the few Pride organizations in the country to still be able to execute a Pride Week safely and successfully. Our socially distanced in-person hybrid events were attended by many visitors from Vancouver, Calgary, and across the Okanagan. Tourism in Kelowna gives exposure to the up-and-coming vibrant scene that is thriving in Kelowna. It also serves to attract talent to the region as over the past few years we have seen an influx of young career movers and shakers that have joined our community to lend their expertise to Kelowna Pride.

Q: What do you value most about our local tourism industry? 
A: The local tourism industry is resilient and partners are very well connected. Especially over the last couple of years, when adversity hit businesses and partners supported each other in being creative, pivoting, and finding ways to thrive and grow.

Q: What other local arts/culture organization would you recognize for their collaborative efforts, resiliency, and/or innovation since COVID-19 hit?
A: Rebellious Unicorns is a 100% LGBT2Q+ owned events, broadcasting, and media production company, dedicated to leading positive change in the Okanagan and curating inclusive events, experiences, and programming that brings people together. The company has produced a variety of in-person events for the LGBT2Q+ community and its allies. We partnered with Rebellious Unicorns since the onset of the pandemic to make Kelowna Pride more accessible to the wider public by ensuring many of our events were hybrid and available on their streaming platform.

DunnEnzies Pizza Co.

Contributed by Meagan Keelaghan, General Area Manager

Pictured: DunnEnzies Co-Owner, Deb Dunnigan (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Q: How does tourism positively impact your business? 
We love being hosts to people from all over the world. The opportunity for our teams to interact with such diverse and interesting clients is really special for us. In the summer months, we see a sharp increase in revenue as people come to explore the Okanagan, which also gives us the opportunity to employ experienced hospitality workers as well as hire and train local kids who live in the neighbourhood looking to learn some life skills.

Q: What value does tourism bring to the LGBT2Q+ community in and around Kelowna? 
A: We are happy to see an increase of LGBT2Q+ events planned and promoted in Kelowna and being a draw for people who are looking to see what the Okanagan has to offer. With more of these events and pro-LGBT2Q+ businesses being featured in online content, we feel that tourism will continue to help these businesses and events expand. In turn, more education, inclusion, and safe spaces will be available for the community and all allies.

Q: What do you value most about our local tourism industry?
A: We value the support of the local movement that has always had a strong spirit in this city. Kelowna is full of entrepreneurs, people with side hustles, and patrons passionate about supporting their friends and neighbours. We are always referring our favourite businesses to newcomers and know that others are doing that for us, too. Tourism in this city does not mean, come here and try something you can try 5 blocks from your house. Tourism here means immersing yourself in what the locals love!

Q: How has your business adapted or evolved through the pandemic? 
A: Yeesh... that's a loaded question haha! The nature of restaurants is to think on your feet, to be creative, and to solve problems constantly—we run tight budgets so all of these are imperative, but the pandemic has given new meaning to all of those things. Budgets went out the window when all of this started, we really had to be creative in how we communicated with our guests and how we protected them and our teams. However, where we have evolved the most I think, is that we live closer to our value of kindness more than anything. Approaching the multitude of challenges, opinions, and changes with kindness has helped us provide a healthy and supportive workplace for our teams and a safe place for our guests. It just comes to the forefront of everything we do now.

Q: What other local arts/culture organization would you recognize for their collaborative efforts, resiliency, and/or innovation since COVID-19 hit?
A: ​
QB Gelato & Bakery—their creativity is off the charts. DPI Canada for always being flexible to what we need and helping us so much with design and signage. Every Single Artist—their resiliency to withstand this pandemic and still create and push forward is outstanding. We are looking forward to booking more shows at our locations and bringing music and the arts back to our stages.

Q: What is your favourite local spot or hidden gem that you'd recommend to people travelling to the area for Kelowna Pride 2021 or beyond? 
A: SweetNam's Nik Naks is an AWESOME stop to get some souvenirs and geek out a little bit. Tail Blazers if you need to feed your furry friends while you are in town, or get them some Pride treats. Sunny's, A Modern Diner for the best Chicken & Waffles you've ever had!

The Value of Tourism

Prior to the pandemic, tourism in Kelowna and the Central Okanagan was a $2.1 billion dollar industry. As a vital economic driver in the region, there is no doubt of the value that tourism brings, generating close to 13,000 jobs, $443 million in visitor spending, and $204 million in tax revenues for local, provincial, and federal programs and infrastructure. The value of tourism, however, is not only economic, as the industry contributes positively to the quality of life of our region’s residents, who can enjoy world-class amenities, events, and attractions year-round, alongside visitors.