The Tourism Kelowna Society held their Annual General Meeting today (December 11) at the Kelowna Yacht Club where they updated stakeholders on how the destination market organization continues to grow Kelowna’s national reputation as a four-season outdoor destination of choice.
Reports from the CEO and Board of Directors highlighted the success of the major events program, the launch of a multi-year winter strategy, campaigns targeting new markets for LGBT travel, Indigenous offerings and more. Also noted, was the Society’s work in positioning Kelowna as a certified sustainable tourism destination.
Other highlights included the community support and visitor engagement generated by the new Visitor Centre, which opened on time and on budget. According to the Chair of Tourism Kelowna’s Board of Directors Thom Killingsworth, since opening, the new visitor centre has welcomed 108,000 individuals in just six months, surpassing its 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.”
A strong start to the year also saw hotel occupancy levels at all-time highs. While weather-related challenges brought overnight visitation down during the summer, 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.”