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.

To further showcase the importance of our local tourism industry, we are kicking off a new series, connecting with our stakeholders, industry partners, and other local businesses and organizations to find out more about what tourism means to them. 


House of Rose Winery

Contributed by Owner, Aura Rose

House of Rose Aerial
Photo Credit: Shawn Talbot Photography

Q: How does tourism positively impact your business or organization?
A: Tourism is incredibly important to us – both local tourism and those visiting from elsewhere. A significant portion of our revenue, particularly in the summer, comes from out-of-towners returning for another year or learning about us on their wine tour.

Q: What value does tourism bring to our local communities?
A: 
Tourism dollars spent here tend, to a large part, remain here as they are spent with small, local businesses.  It also ensures we have a wider selection of restaurants, robust markets, and many cultural events, as these places are frequented and supported by tourists’ dollars as well as locals.

Q: How has your business or organization adapted or evolved through COVID-19?
A: We have promoted more online ordering and adapted our events and activities to follow the PHO protocols. It has not been easy—for small businesses, it is so important for folks to continue to shop local and shop small.

Q: What do you value most about our local tourism industry?
A: I value that locals visit us and that they bring their guests. When locals bring visitors with them, I know that we hold a special place for them. It’s a stamp of approval if you will.

Q: What is your favourite Kelowna hidden gem or local spot that you'd recommend others to visit?
A: But if I tell you, it might get too popular! My favourites are Dosa Crepe Café, a hole-in-the-wall south Indian restaurant, for their delicious, fresh eats and Masa’s Grill at the Harvest Golf Course, for their great food and stunning views.


The Vibrant Vine

Contributed by General Manager, Valeria Verholen

The Vibrant Vine
Photo Credit: The Vibrant Vine

Q: How does tourism positively impact your business or organization?
A: Domestic tourism makes up a significant proportion of our business. While e-commerce and wholesales have made it easier than ever to bring products to the consumer, the experience of welcoming guests into our home is unparalleled. The most positive impact we make is engaging directly with new and returning guests and making their vacation memorable, ensuring they will come back year after year.

Q: What value does tourism bring to our local communities?
A: Domestic and international tourism has an immeasurable impact on our communities. The ripple effect of tourism throughout the region creates employment, cultural diversity, and generates tax revenue, which helps improve our infrastructure, in turn improving our standard of living across the board. 

Q: How has your business or organization adapted or evolved through COVID-19?
A: The challenges presented by a global pandemic undeniably drove innovation in our entire industry. The shift to e-commerce and other digital forms of customer interaction came very quickly and that shift affected everything from hiring requirements and booking systems to flexible working hours and marketing platforms. Once the doors were re-opened, we found our customers were very receptive to new policies, such as one-way-systems and group limitations, helping us to keep both our employees and guests safe. 

Q: What do you value most about our local tourism industry?
A: The most valuable element of Kelowna's tourism industry is the positivity of the businesses and institutions that make it all possible. The 'high tides raise all boats' mentality and desire to overcome obstacles while embracing change means that when any restaurant, winery, gallery, golf course, hotel etc. succeeds, we all feel the benefits to our industry.

Q: What other local business/organization would you recognize for their collaborative efforts, resiliency, and/or innovation since COVID-19 hit?
A: We would like to recognize and pay gratitude to Annuva Solutions. They are a local family business specializing in cleaning products and services for the hospitality industry. Francisco and his family met the demands that COVID-19 put on their customer base and they did it with a smile (even when we immediately needed a few hundred pairs of gloves and masks they came the same day!). Without their excellent service and products, we simply would not have been able to safely open our doors.

Q: What is your favourite Kelowna hidden gem or local spot that you'd recommend others to visit?
A: A Kelowna spot we recommend is Curious Cafe on Ellis. Luigi, his family, and their team are making award-winning pizzas in a warm and welcoming environment. Their innovative use of bubble experiences in the winter was excellent! We also would like to recommend Fortuna Gelato at Orchard Park Shopping Centre—Giulio and his wife offer the real Italian coffee, gelato, and dessert experience! 

 

Wicked Wine Tours

Contributed by President, Nicholas Wilson

Wicked Wine Tours
Photo Credit: Wicked Wine Tours

Q: How does tourism positively impact your business or organization? 
A: Tourism IS our business! We are proud to champion Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley to visitors, support local business’ and the community, and create tourism jobs in our community.

Q: What value does tourism bring to our local communities?
A: 
The Okanagan Valley is a beautiful place to call home, and tourism plays a primary economic role in our thriving community. Travel is one of life’s greatest adventures, and visitors to the Okanagan Valley who experience excellent tourism operators and activities leave with a favourable impression, which in turn promotes civic pride.

Q: How has your business or organization adapted or evolved through COVID-19?
A: 
Being in tourism, we have been hardest hit, and will be last to recover. We have had to adapt nearly constantly as everyone has. It forced us to streamline operations and seek efficiencies, but the extended break also gave us an opportunity to improve our guest services and experiences!

Q: What do you value most about our local tourism industry?
A: 
The Okanagan Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and travel is one of life’s greatest activities. We are fortunate to live here, and we are proud to surprise and delight visitors, and to play a part in a thriving local economy. 

Q: What other local business/organization would you recognize for their collaborative efforts, resiliency, and/or innovation since COVID-19 hit?
A: 
Creative Creations Catering. An entirely new business model sprung directly as a result of the pandemic. Kudos, Chef! 

Q: What is your favourite Kelowna hidden gem or local spot that you'd recommend others to visit?
A: 
Central Kitchen & Bar

 

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