The Tourism Kelowna Society has announced its new Board of Directors and announced further measures to help the local tourism industry through the COVID-19 crisis.

The 2020-21 Tourism Kelowna Society Board of Directors and Executive Committee (noted in bold) includes:

  • Annika Betts, Sandhill Wines (Board Treasurer)
  • Audrey Surrao, RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd.
  • Carla Carlson, Comfort Suites Kelowna by Choice Hotels
  • Cedric Younge, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kelowna
  • Dale Sivucha, Kelowna Hotel Motel Association, Coast Capri Hotel (Kelowna)
  • Dan Matheson, Okanagan Golf Club
  • Gail Given, Councillor, City of Kelowna
  • Heather Schaub, Casa Loma Lakeshore Resort
  • Jon De Bruyne, Kelowna Concierge
  • Joseph Clohessy, Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort (Board Chair)
  • Kelly Watt, Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna (Board Vice Chair)
  • Kristi Caldwell, Caldwell Heritage Farm / Wiseacre Farm Distillery (Board Secretary)
  • Michael J. Ballingall, Big White Ski Resort
  • Nataley Nagy, Kelowna Art Gallery
  • Penny Gambell, Councillor, District of Lake Country
  • Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport
  • Tania Rutt, Prestige Beach House, BW Premier Collection
  • Thom Killingsworth, Kelowna Yacht Club (Past Board Chair)

On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, the Tourism Kelowna Society held their 2018-19 Annual General Meeting (AGM), its first through a virtual format, to update stakeholders on the organization’s recent operations and provide a further update on plans to help the industry recover from COVID-19.

“The timing of the society’s AGM is very interesting this year as we highlighted the achievements of our most successful year to date and outlined immediate plans to deal with the most significant disruptor our industry and local economy has faced,” said Thom Killingsworth, outgoing chair of the Tourism Kelowna Board of Directors. “We are pleased with the organization’s record of success, but very mindful that the businesses that make up the visitor economy, including destination marketing organizations like Tourism Kelowna, are now facing significant revenue challenges.”

Notable achievements in 2019 included highest-ever hotel occupancy levels with increases in every season, another year of strong operations for the Kelowna Visitor Centre and exploring new destination development, and sustainable tourism initiatives to position Kelowna and area for long-term viability. The organization’s auditors presented the financial report, noting another clean audit for the organization.

“The landscape of travel and tourism has changed dramatically and many businesses are facing an uncertain future,” said Joseph Clohessy, incoming chair of the Tourism Kelowna Board of Directors. “Our board’s focus, too, will shift on how to best position our destination and our organization to rise to that challenge ahead.”

During the AGM, Tourism Kelowna also outlined marketing plans to help the destination recover from COVID-19, noting work already implemented and new initiatives underway, adding a full recovery for the tourism industry will take months if not years to return to achieve.

“Soon we will begin to roll out a series of marketing pushes, region by region and in line with advice from our provincial public health officer, to show Kelowna is ready to welcome visitors again,” said Lisanne Ballantyne, President & CEO of Tourism Kelowna. “Our short-term focus is on helping local businesses through this time, recover and return to profitability. Our longer-term focus will be on how our organization and industry can emerge better positioned for the future.”

In its first meeting following the AGM, the new Board of Directors approved a temporary relief program for existing Tourism Kelowna voting stakeholders that would see stakeholder advertising benefits extended for one year without additional cost – as well as additional programs for local tourism businesses to generate exposure for their business. Details of this new program will be announced later this week.

For more information, including a full 2019 in review video and the 2019 Report to the Community document, please visit Tourism Kelowna’s Website.  

About Tourism Kelowna

As the lead destination marketing organization (DMO) for the Central Okanagan, Tourism Kelowna works on behalf of over 420 local businesses and an entire tourism community to generate overnight visitor demand that economically benefits Kelowna and its surrounding areas. The BC tourism industry named Tourism Kelowna the 2019 DMO of the year for Professional Excellence, recognizing the organization’s performance, accountability, and commitment to uplifting the local and provincial tourism industry sector. A four-season outdoor playground, Kelowna attracts over 1.8 million overnight visits that generate $337 million in local spending. A vital economic driver for the region, Kelowna’s tourism industry provides 12,000 jobs, $142 million in tax revenue and generates $1.25 billion in total economic output annually.

For more information:

Chris Shauf, Director of Marketing & Communication
Tourism Kelowna
(250) 861-1515 ext. 203