On Tuesday, December 11, the Tourism Kelowna Society held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Kelowna Yacht Club, updating more than 100 attending stakeholders on how the destination marketing organization continues to grow Kelowna’s national reputation as a four-season outdoor destination of choice.
Reports from the Board of Directors and the CEO highlighted the success of a new, major events program; the launch of a multi-year winter strategy; campaigns targeting new markets like LGBT travel, culinary tourism, and Indigenous offerings for authentic culture seekers; and the Society’s work in positioning Kelowna as a certified sustainable tourism destination. It was also noted that the Society’s overall organizational excellence has once again been recognized with international certification through the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, demonstrating adherence to stringent industry standards.
Other highlights included the tremendous community support and visitor engagement generated by the new Visitor Centre, which was opened on time and under budget. Thom Killingsworth, Chair of the Tourism Kelowna Board of Directors, announced that since opening in June, the new Visitor Centre has welcomed 108,000 individuals, surpassing in just six months the original goal of serving 100,000 visitors annually.
“We are proud of our accomplishments and appreciative to have an amazing operational team and an engaged volunteer Board made up of hard-working individuals, each representing different elements of our industry but all coming together for the best interests of the destination,” said Killingsworth. “This year proved yet again that we have the right team in place, working on the right priorities, at the right time.”
The past twelve months have been pivotal for the tourism industry in Kelowna and its neighbouring communities. A strong start to the year saw hotel occupancy levels at all-time highs. While weather-related challenges brought overnight visitation down in the summer season, occupancy remained up 1.3 points year over year.
“We have a strong, resilient tourism industry but going forward, diversifying our tourism offerings will be key in our evolution to becoming a four-season outdoor destination,” said Lisanne Ballantyne, Tourism Kelowna President and CEO. “We have new market opportunities in 2019 that will solidify that path and set us well on the way to our goal of 3.5 million annual visitors by 2022.”
Tourism Kelowna Society’s 2019 Board was also confirmed. The list of directors, and executive committee members, includes:
- Katie Balkwill - Big White Ski Resort
- Kristi Caldwell - Caldwell Heritage Farms / Wiseacre Farm Distillery
- Carla Carlson - Comfort Suites Kelowna
- Joseph Clohessy - Delta Grand Okanagan Resort
- Dana Crichton - Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport
- Debbie Dupasquier - Bluestar Charters
- Penny Gambell - Lake Country City Council
- Gail Given - Kelowna City Council
- Thom Killingsworth - Kelowna Yacht Club
- Patricia Leslie - Gray Monk Estate Winery
- Stan Martindale - Ramada Kelowna Hotel & Conference Centre
- Dan Matheson - Okanagan Golf Club
- Nataley Nagy - Kelowna Art Gallery
- Sam Samaddar - Kelowna International Airport
- Heather Schroeter - Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas
- Dale Sivucha - Kelowna Hotel Motel Association
- Tanya Stroinig - Prestige Hotels & Resorts
- Cedric Young - Fairfield Inn & Suites Kelowna
Click here to download Tourism Kelowna's 2017-2018 Report to the Community.
About Tourism Kelowna
As the lead destination marketing organization for the Central Okanagan, Tourism Kelowna works on behalf of 400 local businesses and an entire tourism community to generate overnight visitor demand that economically benefits Kelowna and its surrounding areas.
A four-season outdoor playground, Kelowna attracts almost 2 million visitors annually who in turn 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, contact Jennifer Widmer, Travel Media & Communication, at (250) 861-1515 ext 204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.