The Road to Recovery
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Tourism Kelowna

STAKEHOLDER BULLETIN #7: COVID-19

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

APRIL 17, 2020

Our industry continues to feel the economic losses related to COVID-19. With each week comes more announcements of new financial support or details of existing programs to broaden the response. However, it can feel like the more questions are answered, the more questions arise.

How do I know where to find information on emergency supports and if I qualify? When will the economy recover? When can my business open again? How will that re-opening happen and what will it look like?

We know that helping connect you with information—as frequently changing as it is—continues to be a primary request from Tourism Kelowna stakeholders. For that reason, yesterday Tourism Kelowna hosted a virtual town hall, with added expertise from organizations that also serve businesses in the visitor economy, including the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Kelowna Association, and Visit Westside / City of West Kelowna.

Over 100 participants listened in as the organizations discussed activities already underway and plans for recovery, answering questions submitted by participants. If you weren’t able to join us, you can watch the virtual town hall here. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and as a result, we’ll aim for another virtual town hall in mid-to-late May.

Some items of note coming out of the virtual webinar include:

  • Re-opening the economy will likely happen slowly, in stages, sector by sector, and under the direction / recommendation of public health officials and municipal, provincial, and federal governments.
  • Additional supports may soon be announced for tourism businesses to access one-on-one business recovery advice and pathfinding services to navigate the many announcements coming from the local, provincial, and national governments.
  • Town Hall participants are looking for new ways to offer value during the pandemic and after, including additional promotional exposure, informational opportunities, and looking for collaboration opportunities whenever possible.
  • Businesses are seeking clear direction from government on health, travel, and public gathering restrictions, particularly around when and how to open their businesses.

In addition, here are a few initial insights about traveller behaviours and interests following this public health issue to assist your planning:

  • When travel returns, travellers will want to stay closer to home at the start (short-haul, within a 6-hour drive).
  • Travel will first return within BC, then nearby provinces, then further provinces; international travel will likely not return until next year and will be on a country-by-country basis.
  • Visitors' planning and booking patterns will be shorter and consumers will be looking for more flexibility.
  • Consumers will delay spending on larger items (including travel), will have lower risk tolerance, and be more price sensitive.
  • It is anticipated that younger, outdoor-loving travellers will return first, and travellers will tend to avoid mass transit options and crowded locations until there’s a greater return to general society operations.

Another important note: Destination British Columbia recently noted that media consumption increased 60% as this pandemic unfolds, with video content increasing 65% and YouTube searches growing 50%. You can leverage this trend by sharing your virtual experiences through your social channels and tagging #exploreKelownafromhome so we can help amplify your message.

While it’s too early to say when we will be able to market our destinations again, it’s not too early to talk about what that marketing recovery effort might look like. If you haven’t seen it yet, our COVID-19 response plan is available here and will be updated as more details are confirmed. Thank you for your ongoing input and suggestions; they help guide our actions. 

Even as we enter the second month of social distancing, I’m encouraged and proud of the innovation and partnerships in the tourism and economic development sectors that are being solidified even further because of this. Collaboration is at the heart of our work so we are very pleased with this week’s announcement that economic recovery and resiliency will be collectively addressed through a regional task force. Tourism Kelowna is at the table for those discussions, demonstrating the importance of our visitor economy.

We continue to follow provincial health directives and, like you, I am heartened to see BC communities coming together to begin flattening the curve. Continued actions now will ensure we are later in the best position possible to enjoy the returning benefits—both economic and social—that travel brings us all.

Stay safe. Be well.

Lisanne Ballantyne
President & CEO
Tourism Kelowna


If you have questions or updates about your businesses, please contact us at
info@tourismkelowna.com.

A list of important resources is available on Tourism Kelowna’s COVID-19 webpage and you can sign up for our Industry News Centre updates. 

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