Tourism industry growing in Kamloops

KAMLOOPS — If the 2015 tourism season is any indication, 2016 should be another busy one, according to Tourism Kamloops, which says visitation numbers in the Tournament Capital are increasing every year.

In its annual report, Tourism Kamloops cites that hotel occupancy reached five-year highs, with a 26 per cent increase in revenues.

“We’re up just over $2.5 million in gross revenues,” says Tourism Kamloops CEO Beverly DeSantis. “In July, it was up 8.2%, and we saw significant increases in August. In September, which traditionally starts to slow down for us, we saw a 7% increase over 2014.”

It was the best year for tourism in Kamloops since the economic downturn in 2008, with hotels racking in over $52 million in gross revenues. With the low Canadian dollar, Kamloops saw more U.S. visitors and locals staying closer to home.

“Last year, we actually saw an increase from our neighbours to the south. There was an increase in Washington, up 33% over 2014 to 2015, which is really encouraging. We’re also seeing increases in the California market.”

There have been  three more hotels built in Kamloops, and many others upgraded, over the last two years, and that increase in supply has helped accomodate the demand.

“There’s been almost a $30 million investment over the last several years with new hotels,” says General Manager of the Doubletree Hilton Joey Beltrano. “As a whole, there’s been an increase in 18% from a demand perspective since 2010.”

The new Kamloops Wine Trail experienced a 198 per cent increase in 2015, and Tourism Kamloops is projecting the same trend this summer.

Plus, with a struggling economy next door, locals can expect more Albertans at the Shuswap this summer.

“We’re marketing more into the Alberta marketplace to get those visitors to come here, knowing the economy is struggling a little bit in Alberta,” says DeSantis, who came to Kamloops last month from Calgary. “And now with the wildfires there, it’s not as pleasant to head to some of those lakeside communities in Alberta as it would be to head to B.C.”

Tourism Kamloops’ strategy for 2016, as it is always, is encouraging overnight visitors to stay longer and check out what the city has to offer.

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