The Tourism Kelowna Society held its 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday, May 11, its second through a virtual format, to update stakeholders on the organization’s strategic focus and annual operations and to announce newly elected directors who will help guide the organization and local tourism industry through its post-pandemic recovery. The society’s financial statements and report were also endorsed, noting another clean report from the auditors.

“Through the uncertainty of 2020, Tourism Kelowna has remained focused on helping local businesses persevere,” said Joseph Clohessy, Chair of Tourism Kelowna’s Board of Directors. “With our industry facing challenges unlike anything before, the board’s focus has been on managing and mitigating oncoming risk and planning for recovery so the organization and industry can once again prosper and bring increased benefits to our community.”

“I’m proud of the organization’s work this year, and am encouraged by the strength, conviction, and innovation displayed by local businesses through this very difficult year,” said Clohessy. “The efforts local businesses have taken to keep going, despite increased cost of operation and decreased revenue potential, have been incredible. It was also very inspiring to witness our community come together to stay local and support local to help local businesses as much as possible.”

The 2021-22 Tourism Kelowna Society Board of Directors includes:

  • Annika Betts, Sandhill Wines
  • Audrey Surrao, RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd.
  • Carla Carlson, Comfort Suites Kelowna by Choice Hotels
  • Cedric Younge, Hyatt Place Kelowna
  • Dale Sivucha, Coast Capri Hotel (Kelowna)
  • Edan Fay, The Royal Kelowna
  • Gail Given, Counsellor, City of Kelowna
  • Jon De Bruyne, Kelowna Concierge
  • Joseph Clohessy, Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort
  • Kelly Watt, Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna
  • Kristi Caldwell, Wiseacre Farm Distillery
  • Michael J. Ballingall, Big White Ski Resort
  • Nataley Nagy, Kelowna Art Gallery
  • Natalie Corbett, President, Kelowna Hotel Motel Association; Accent Inns / Hotel Zed
  • Penny Gambell, Counsellor, District of Lake Country
  • Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport
  • Thom Killingsworth, Kelowna Yacht Club

Clohessy also thanked outgoing board members Heather Schaub, General Manager of Casa Loma Lakeshore Resort, and Dan Matheson, General Manager of the Okanagan Golf Club, for their service to the organization and the industry. The Society’s board will elect directors to executive roles at the upcoming May board meeting.  

Notable achievements over the past year included marketing campaigns to help local businesses survive, being named the top mid-size city in Canada for sport tourism hosting for the second year in a row, an expanded retail program supporting more than 80 local businesses, and a much-needed extension of advertising benefits to local businesses at no cost.

Prior to the pandemic, an economic impact survey found that the Central Okanagan tourism industry generated $2.1 billion in economic output, generated nearly 13,000 jobs for residents, and attracted $443 million in spending at local businesses annually. However, the economic impact of the pandemic has been severe. While visitation numbers primarily from in-province travel remained strong in 2020, especially over summer months when travel restrictions were not in place, hotel visitation, length of stay, and visitor spend dropped sharply. In 2020, local hotels and resorts recorded a 40.8% hotel occupancy rate (a drop of over 24.4 points over 2019’s record high).

“Tourism is a valuable economic contributor to our region. And while COVID-19 has presented once-in-a-lifetime challenges for our industry, it has also forced us to work closer and smarter than ever to keep that important industry going,” said Lisanne Ballantyne, President and CEO of Tourism Kelowna. “Kelowna and the Central Okanagan is well-positioned for a strong recovery due to the resilience of our local businesses and the strong draw of our four-season destination.”

For local tourism research, visit:

To read Tourism Kelowna’s 2020 Report to the Community, visit:

If you weren’t able to attend the AGM and would like to watch the recording, you can view it here. Please note, due to a technical issue, the recording starts at Item 4 of the agenda.

About Tourism Kelowna

As the lead destination marketing organization for the Central Okanagan, Tourism Kelowna works on behalf of over 400 local tourism businesses and the larger tourism and hospitality community to support and market the destination of Kelowna in a sustainable manner that strengthens the economy and enriches the quality of life for residents.

Kelowna’s $2 billion dollar visitor economy is a major economic driver, attracting 2 million visitors annually who in turn generate 13,000 jobs, $204 million in tax revenue, and $443 million in direct spending at local businesses. Our goal is to establish the Central Okanagan as North America’s four-season, outdoor destination of choice by 2024. 

For more information, contact:

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