Whether or not you've explored it yet, if you've ever driven to Kelowna from the east, you've passed through the District of Lake Country, one of the six communities that make up the Central Okanagan. The district was incorporated in 1995, uniting Winfield, Okanagan Centre, Oyama, and Carr's Landing into a new municipality—each of these areas remain ward neighbourhoods of Lake Country. Between 2011 and 2016, Lake Country's population grew by 10.4%, making it one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the province. 

In addition to being a desirable place to call home, the area is full of tourism-related businesses and remarkable experiences for visitors and residents to enjoy—here are just a handful:

We connected with a couple of Lake Country businesses, based in Oyama, to find out more about what tourism means to them and how it positively impacts their business and community.

Pedego Oyama

Contributed by Owner, Sheila Fraser

Photo credit: Mirae Campbell (@miraecampbell)

Q. How does tourism positively impact your business or organization? 
A. Seventy-five percent of our database was built from our rental clients who used our electric bikes to experience the Okanagan Rail Trail (ORT) and 90% of our revenue comes from selling Pedego e-bikes, which tells us most of our owners were tourists “in their own backyard” first! Our philosophy of “try before you buy” is supported by the world-class ORT and is why we give back a portion of every rental fee to the maintenance of the trail. The ORT has linked communities together and, as it continues its expansion, moves the Okanagan Valley into ecotourism and a sustainable tourism future. What also became abundantly clear in COVID times is how safe tourists from here and all over the province felt in recreating outside and rediscovering the beauty and the possibilities for family fun in Lake Country. “I haven’t been here for years!!” was a common cry.  

Q. What value does tourism bring to Lake Country?
A. Here are a few of the many ways tourism has added value to Lake Country:  

  1. Reintroduced the area as a destination for Okanagan residents to make a day trip – garnering a different feel and unique experience from any other destination spot in the Okanagan. 
  2. Exposed potential new residents to the real estate values and opportunities of a lake country lifestyle. 
  3. Created the consumer traffic needed to sustain and create more opportunities for economic growth.  

Q. What is your favourite spot or hidden gem in Lake Country that you’d recommend to visitors or area residents looking to be tourists in their own town? 
A. Oyama is a favorite spot/hidden gem in Lake Country. It has its own vibe with an eclectic mix of businesses and people that make it friendly and welcoming. We recommend to visitors or area residents looking to be tourists in their own town to stop in at OKFGrill by the Oyama General Store where their expert chefs create the best homemade burgers and daily specials during the season. Or, pay a visit to Pane Vino Pizzeria for authentic wood-fired pizza—both the oven and the restaurant’s co-owner, Patrizio, came from Naples!

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge

Contributed by Owner, Nickie Burditt

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge

Q. How does tourism positively impact your business or organization?
A. Tourism is essential to the success of our business as we rely heavily on travellers wishing to experience camping, glamping, and cabin adventures. One of the things that we love most about running an off-grid camp is being able to bring a little taste of Canadian back-country culture to guests who would not normally get to experience such a thing in their homeland. Seeing adults and children come together to celebrate, have bonfires, and enjoy nature is the most fulfilling experience. Without such an influx of tourists, we would not get the opportunity to share our amazingly beautiful backyard.

Q. What value does tourism bring to Lake Country?
A. We are so fortunate to live in a place that has such beauty and draws tourists from all over the world. This positively impacts our economy and gives us the opportunity to share all that there is to experience in the Okanagan with our foreign neighbours.

Q. How has your business or organization adapted or evolved through COVID-19?
A. COVID-19 has impacted our business in ways that we did not fully expect. Normally, our eco-lodge is an international travel destination focusing on customers looking for a Canadian experience. Since borders have mostly been closed to outside countries during COVID-19, we have had to change our marketing strategy to appeal more to the local communities. Although the pandemic has had mostly negative impacts on local businesses, including ours, this aspect has been a positive for us as it has been such a pleasure getting to know our local neighbours. This upcoming season we are
going to focus more on appealing to the local community by offering incentives and discounts for those looking for a staycation within their local community.

Q. What is your favourite spot or hidden gem in Lake Country that you’d recommend to visitors or area residents looking to be tourists in their own town?
A.  Lake Country is full of hidden gems, but if we had to pick our favourite it would have to be Chantana’s Thai Restaurant based out of Turtle Bay. Not only is Chantana a delightful human, but she is also a gifted cook with unbeatable prices. We love to visit her place regularly and recommend her food to anyone interested in healthier meal options.


Want to take part in our Value of Tourism series? Email me at your convenience to discuss further. 

The Value of Tourism

Prior to the pandemic, tourism in 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.