As the Kelowna area entered another week of smokey skies, the Tourism Kelowna team was busy working with local and national media to promote accurate information about our local conditions, the impact of the smoke, and what needs to happen next.The following media stories resulted from last week's interviews:
- Kelowna Capital News: Okanagan tourists undeterred by smoke
- CBC News Network: Live interview
- ICI Radio-Canada Premiere: French radio broadcast
- Kelowna Daily Courier: Smoke bad for business in the Okanagan
- Castanet: Tourism hit by smoke
- AM 1150: Tourism down, but not out
Here are some themes from the many media stories:
- There are no fires of note in our region, but smoke is having an effect on the tourism industry. Tourism is big business in the Central Okanagan, attracting 2 million visitors annually and generating $1.25 billion in economic impact, including 12,000 jobs. Like last year, we were poised for a strong summer, with the first 6 months of 2018 trending ahead of last year, including some months with best-ever occupancies.
- We surveyed 90 accommodators last week and heard about 75% had experienced a cancellation due to smoke, and 58% had experienced a guest shortening their stay after arrival. Tourism businesses are being affected, or not affected to varying degrees. Some operators report serious concerns about the number of guest cancellations while others report no effect at all, even having their best season yet.
- The new Kelowna Visitor Centre is busy, averaging 800 people per day and playing a vital role in connecting tourists and residents with remarkable experiences. Now, more than ever, the economic development role of Tourism Kelowna's Visitor Experience staff and volunteers is vital in encouraging guests to stay longer and increase local spending while here.
- We know Kelowna and area has a strong destination brand and a resilient tourism industry. We proved this last year when fall occupancy rates rebounded and 2017 ended being almost on par with 2016, our record-setting year. We aim to rebound again this year with a strong, collective marketing campaign beginning after the Labour Day weekend, specifically targeting our Alberta and B.C short-haul markets. The goal is to minimally meet and hopefully exceed last year’s average occupancy rates of 82% for September and 66% for October.
Tourism operators continue to play a vital role in promoting our destination. If you are not already doing so, here are several ways you can assist:
- Share the link to our live conditions webcam, located at the Kelowna Visitor Centre.
- Post photos or video of residents and visitors at your business using #RealTimeKelowna. Include the date and time so visitors can see the many activities they can enjoy in Kelowna, no matter what the weather.
- Tag your content and social media posts with #exploreKelowna so we can amplify it.
- Share your business information with visitors by contacting our Visitor Experience Team.
For more information on Tourism Kelowna's recent media activities, contact President & CEO, Lisanne Ballantyne, at email@example.com.