We’re entering into the Victoria Day long weekend, which traditionally brings a surge of visitors to our destination. This year, the May long weekend will be different as Canadians are asked to stay close to home and limit non-essential travel. While BC continues to fare well and keep transmission rates low, risks remain. Many small, resort, and vacation communities that lack critical infrastructure are actively asking visitors to stay away at this time. For now, with non-essential travel still limited, we are encouraging residents to stay safe and stay local.
As we enter Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan, and as businesses prepare for their own restart, I am often asked about Tourism Kelowna’s recovery marketing plans. Our strategic framework for 2020 is located on our website and as government plans solidify, we are filling in details of the marketing tactics and timing. Provided BC stays the course in managing the public health issue, we anticipate phasing-in tactics in geographic markets when and where travel is permitted:
- Continued local focus now.
- Expand to regional marketing for summer.
- Target interprovincial marketing by fall.
- International travel markets are longer-term recovery.
It’s important to note that similar to the Premier’s comment about the provincial restart not being like the “flip of a switch,” our marketing restart will be more like a series of thoughtful and targeted activations. We’re seeing local tourism businesses apply the same thoughtful approach to reopening. While business categories have been identified in BC’s Restart Plan, and guidelines are being released for sectors through WorkSafeBC, provincial government leaders are advising businesses to be patient, have a plan, and do what is right for your particular business.
We also appreciate access to operational funding is vital right now. This past week, Tourism Kelowna hosted our second virtual town hall event specific to tourism COVID-19 recovery. I was joined by Krista Mallory, COEDC’s Manager, and Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA’s President & CEO, to discuss new resiliency programs available to help businesses connect to the resources they need. If you weren’t able to join us, you can watch a recording of the town hall here to learn more about our plans and approach.
May long has traditionally attracted visitors to our hotels, restaurants, and attractions—this year the focus is on safely serving locals. Our provincial health leaders are encouraging bigger spaces with fewer faces and to stay local, stay apart, and stay safe. By doing so, we’re setting up our local and provincial tourism industry for a more successful restart.
As we work towards this successful restart, remember to keep consumers informed—both online and in your physical location—about how you are addressing COVID-19. Having this information is becoming increasingly important to consumers, who will be more confident in your business if they understand how your team is working to keep them safe. Sharing this information through social media, as BC Parks did this week when reopening parks for day use, will also encourage customers to share your message with others.
A final note: sometimes good news and a little optimism can go a long way, both in terms of providing a much-needed boost to our industry and in restoring consumer confidence. If you have a success story to share, please tag #exploreKelownalocal or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe. Be well.
President & CEO
If you have questions or updates about your businesses, please contact us at email@example.com.
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.