Premier Horgan’s announcement on restarting the BC economy outlined four stages of recovery and the sequencing around reopening different business sectors. However, we are hearing from local tourism stakeholders and residents alike that many questions remain about how that reopening will occur.
We know that the government is listening as different tourism and hospitality sectors organize to develop their own customized reopening guidelines. These new operating standards will protect staff and consumers while ensuring we continue to flatten the curve in our communities. BC’s golf industry was among the first to formalize its best practices; you can view them and other tourism sector strategies our website.
We also encourage you to learn more about the new Tourism Resiliency Program, administered in our region by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). This program provides one-on-one assistance to help tourism businesses navigate information and access the various relief programs available.
Also, Destination BC is rolling out a series of COVID-19 webinars covering topics on consumer insights, visitor experience, reputation management, social media planning, and more. You can learn more and register here.
While the impact of COVID-19 remains devastating on our industry, there are efforts to support, and we expect more sector-specific announcements still to come as more businesses prepare and launch their restart.
Tourism Kelowna Recovery Plan
This week, our Premier and Chief Health Officer both reiterated that we remain in Phase 1 of the recovery plan and non-essential travel is not recommended at this time. So, for now, Tourism Kelowna will continue to focus efforts in our local market to connect consumers to businesses that they can support now.
As more businesses open, and as travel begins to return slowly, we will expand additional marketing aligned with recommendations from the provincial government. Local now; regional soon; followed by provincial and other domestic markets later. International travel, including the United States, will be subject to borders re-opening and will take a much longer recovery time.
This focus on short-haul marketing means now, more than ever, regional tourism and economic development communities are collaborating to leverage budget and resources. Destination marketing offices throughout the Central Okanagan are meeting together to identify common needs and explore collective promotion approaches.
We recognize the vital importance of maintaining tourism’s good standing in our community when the time comes for the gradual return of travellers. A survey done in fall 2019 found that 95% of residents felt the tourism industry was important to our local economy and 81% felt it provided good employment opportunities and was a good investment overall. Further, 57% felt tourism positively impacted their quality of life.
As visitors return to Kelowna, gradually, and in stages from market to market, we will continue monitoring to ensure locals are still welcoming and supportive of the visitor economy. We must also ensure that tourism businesses have adequately recovered enough to deliver a remarkable Okanagan travel experience, one that makes visitors recommend our destination and return, again and again.
Tourism Industry Town Hall - Learn More to Help Your Business
Please join us on May 14 when we host our second virtual town hall, focused on tourism recovery. I will be joined by panelists from the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, answering your questions about regional recovery and new resources available for businesses. You can register and submit your questions in advance here.
Stay safe. Be well.
President & CEO
If you have questions or updates about your businesses, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of important resources is available on Tourism Kelowna’s COVID-19 web page and you can sign up for our Industry News Centre bulletins.