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‘Strong’ summer: Kelowna Tourism

Despite a slow spring, Tourism Kelowna says that early indications are showing that this summer was very good for attracting visitors to the Okanagan.

Catherine Frechette, Tourism Kelowna media relations manager, said that this year is looking on par with last year. That’s good news considering that the summer months of 2010 were the highest revenue months ever for Kelowna hotels.

“Our reporting for accommodation bookings usually has a bit of lag time, so we don’t have those numbers yet, but I can tell you anecdotally that the bookings are looking strong this summer,” said Frechette.

Frechette said that July and August are Kelowna’s primary tourism months. She credited some new attractions with helping bring people to the city.

“We had a bunch of new festivals that happened this year that were really positive. We had the GranFondo that happened in July. Before that was the new Dragon Boat Festival,” said Frechette.

The first ever Fusion Festival was also a new event that drew crowds in early August.

According to Frechette, this past long weekend marked the end the traveling season for many family vacationers. “September long weekend is typically a wrap-up for family travel. That’s when kids are going back to school.”

That doesn’t mean tourism stops in the Okanagan.

“It’s not a peak during the summer and then falling right off. September tends to see travel of a different kind and remains fairly busy.”

Frechette said that travel related to wine and golf becomes quite popular in September because the activities lend themselves well to empty nesters and foreign tourists.

“We tend to see a lot of Europeans traveling in September. In October we have the fall wine festival that we look forward to. Then we see a bit of a taper after that.”

Tourism Kelowna has utilized a variety of visitor tools this year to attract as many travelers as possible.

The first is a new golf reservation system that Tourism Kelowna has implemented through its web site.

It can be accessed at www.golfkelowna.com.

“There’s actually 19 golf courses in the Kelowna vicinity. Kelowna is definitely rising in terms of a golf destination for Canada.”

Another tool helps visitors select various wine trails. A new brochure, available at the visitors centre, has been very popular with tourists this year, according to Frechette.

A final key component has been a studio and farm tour brochure.

“There’s a real interest in visiting farms and artisans; we have lots of farms and artisans in Kelowna.”

Along with the visitor tools, Tourism Kelowna has continued with a persistent advertising campaign.

“As a destination it’s very important to continue to be in the market place on a regular basis. We make decisions around our advertising in a very targeted way to potential tourists whose demographic would work very well for the Kelowna destination.”

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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