Manic Monday – Resilient, Committed and Determined to Grow

Midnight Musings from our CEO

This past week, more than 200 stakeholders took the time to join us in Osoyoos for the Annual TOTA AGM and Summit. It was encouraging to see every area of our region represented and inspiring to realize the resiliency of our tourism industry and operators. Both 2018, and in turn 2017, presented our industry in many parts of the Thompson Okanagan with difficult challenges, challenges that ranged from natural disasters; in the form of floods and fires, to air quality and smoke concerns, highway closures and even the aftermath and fall out of cross-province politics.

In the past few days following the Summit, many in the media have been asking what our industry is doing or planning to do overcome the effects of these events in the future. Our response has been unwavering; our long-term success and sustainability as an industry and our continued position as the #1 economic driver in this region, rely solely on our ability to create new product and experiences that extend visitation outside of the traditional 45 days.  This priority, which has been the focus of our attention since the launch of the regional strategy in 2012, has resulted in the visitor economy now extending to 110 days with our long-term goal to achieve 200+ days in the years to come. We cannot control Mother Nature, nor can we predict when fires and floods may occur anymore than we can anticipate rain or snow volumes. What we can continue to do is to adapt our product offering and promote the breadth and depth of experiences available in this region throughout many months of the year.  The Thompson Okanagan will always be known as a place to enjoy summer sun and fun, however it is so much more. As we grow and expand our story, we will continue to grow and expand our industry!

This is a strong and vibrant industry with an incredible future. Working and listening to all of those in the industry and those that have been through difficult times over the past few years it is so encouraging to hear the continued determination to build a world-class tourism industry in this region. There is no question the strength of this industry is in the people and they continue to show they are Resilient, Committed and Determined to Grow.

In this regard, I would also like to introduce you to your new TOTA board for 2018/19. We welcome and congratulate each of these individuals who have generously given of their time as well as all of those that let their name stand.

Meet Your Board

  • Frank Antoine – Chair
  • Michael J Ballingall – Vice Chair
  • Christine Latimer – Secretary / Treasurer
  • Bryan Pilbeam – Past Chair
  • Kathrin Von Andrian
  • Don Brogan
  • Erik Fisher
  • Glenn Grant
  • Lyndie Hill
  • Kevin Howlett
  • Brad Pelletier
  • Steve Rice
  • Thom Tischik
  • Andy Schwaiger
  • Liz McKinney
  • Beverley Desantis


A Few Highlights from this Week’s News Centre…

It may take a village to raise a child but it takes tremendous partnerships to host a successful conference and, as we have said many times before, our Annual TOTA AGM and Summit could not happen without the tremendous support from our Corporate Partners and generous Stakeholders.

Destination BC and the Provincial Government are not only our main funding partners in Tourism but provide leadership, guidance and most importantly take the time to listen to industry, their concerns, challenges and goals for the future.  Our Corporate Partners including Air Canada, TELUS and YLW have been instrumental in helping to drive change and innovation. Through a series of MOU’s signed between Indigenous Tourism BC, Green Step,  Spinal Cord BC, go2HR, Tourism Kelowna, Tourism Kamloops, North Central Washington State, Southern Queensland Country and most recently Fjord Norway it has enabled us to not only source best practice but actually implement it in region. We also would be remiss to not acknowledge important and ongoing support from Destination Canada, TIABC and the Federal Government who continue to work with us to build the tourism industry that we know is possible.

Specific to this year’s event sincere thank you and our sincere appreciation is extended to SW Audio Visual, Destination Osoyoos, Mount Baldy, Spirit Ridge Resort, Nk’Mip Winery/Arterra Wines, Fortis BC, Mobilize, Blue Star and Let’s Go Transportation.

Finally, to all the many stakeholders that were generous enough to provide unique and interesting silent and live auction items, once again our thanks. Through these funds raised we are able to assist with bursaries for our three post-secondary institutions including UBCO, TRU and Okanagan College and to continue to help support the efforts of the BC Hospitality Foundation.

Read all of this week’s News Centre stories at

Keep following and contributing to TOTA’s Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region.  Be sure to use #route97 and #explorebc when posting your tourism shots and stories.

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