Letter: Farm tours on-going in Okanagan Valley

There has never been an absence of working farm tours and to say this is a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

To the editor:

With regards to the cover page of the Kelowna Capital News, dated May 9, 2014: The Great Okanagan Farm Tour and the page A5 headline: Absense of Working Farm Tour Impacts Local Tourism.

There has never been an absence of working farm tours and to say this is a gross misrepresentation of the truth, as I am sure the 34 wineries in Kelowna, along with Arlo’s Honey, Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan, McMillan’s Pumkin Patch and the Lavender Farm to name a few, will surely agree.

The East Kelowna Cider Co. (one of the founders of the Cidery/Fruit Wine Land-Based Licence) has been offering interactive farm tours since 2009 and has been in the cider business since 1995.

This article is giving the wrong impression to the reader. The pioneering agritourism operations in Kelowna were Gatzke’s Orchards, Davison Orchards and Apple Berry Farms. They went to a farm-direct marketing conference in Portland in 1993—this was the beginning of agritourism in Kelowna.

KLO began their farm tour operation a couple of years later.

Basing the decline of travelling tour groups spending the night in Kelowna on just one agritourism business closing its doors is inaccurate. Large bus lines periodically change the layover city every couple of years to ensure repeat business.

Also, our economy is just now beginning to thrive once more. The Economic Development Commission and the Kelowna Capital News reporter have failed to portray the entire agritourism industry, if they had they would find no absence; only a small group gaining more members every year.

The Kelowna Farm to Table Tour Guide began in 2010. Its purpose is to increase tourism in Kelowna by bringing the clients to the businesses. To date there are 18 farms, 25 wineries and nine restaurants involved in the program. Agritourism welcomes new businesses to the industry—as we grow in number we grow in strength.

But let’s not forget the ones who have been hard at work turning Kelowna back into a destination stop.

Theressa Ross,