Study shows tourism growing in Central Okanagan

A new study of tourism in Kelowna shows while the number of people visiting the area has risen substantially over the last five years, the amount of money they are spending has dropped.

According to Tourism Kelowna, which commissioned the study by InterVISTAS Consulting as a folow up to a similar study conducted in 2006, the area now welcomes more than 1.5 million per year, up 26.9 per cent over figures recorded in 2006.

But the survey also showed that the total amount those visitors spend dropped by 3.1 per cent to $279 million.

"It is no secret that tourism is a significant economic driver for the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area – an industry that is responsible for a diversity of jobs, a robust tax base, a generator of consumer demand and dollars, motivator of private sector business investment, and the fuel for infrastructure upgrades and expansion for our city’s overall quality of life," said Kelowna Tourism in a news release announcing the survey's results. "The numbers to prove it."

The extensive report also shows tourism her account for just over 7,000 direct jobs (up 5.8 per cent), $176 million in wages (up 39.7 per cent) and $335 million in GDP (up 50.2 per cent).

While visitor spending has decreased, Nancy Cameron, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna noted that the overall performance of the industry has been strong when viewed over the year period despite the recession and on-going economic instability.

"Declines in spending clearly demonstrate the continuing conservative approach that tourists take with their discretionary dollars, and the opportunity that Kelowna can offer them as a destination with a high degree of value and depth.," she said.

The figures used were compiled by BC Stats, Statistics Canada and data collected in the 2011 Visitor Survey Spending Profile conducted by Kettle Valley Research.

“The comprehensive evaluation of the tourism industry every 5 years is required for strong decision making not only for Tourism Kelowna but for potential industry investors and business start-ups” said Cameron.

In addition to above figures, the study also found tourism here accounted for $653 million in economic output (up 68.7 per cent) and $100 million in tax revenues (up 12.4 per cent).


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