Letter: Tourist Centre should be a ‘legacy building’

Kelowna, we deserve the best [tourist centre] as we have the best of British Columbia on offer.

To the editor:

I have been catching up on some letters to the editor over the last few days after celebrating Big White Ski Resort’s most successful season in history. I was interested in some of your readers’ points of view on the proposed Kelowna tourism information centre.

If there is one thing I have learned after spending 30 years in the Okanagan Valley it is that our guests enjoy and value a warm welcome and our unique Okanagan hospitality. Have you ever checked in to one of those special hotels and you’re in awe of the lobby? That place that makes you feel so welcome that you want to share the story with your friends and family? It is my belief that this is what the current and previous boards of Tourism Kelowna and the visionaries of our city are trying to create with the new visitor information centre.

My responsibilities for Big White Ski Resort allow me to travel to many beautiful parts of the world and talk to numerous tourism professionals. The one thing that I continuously hear is: “Always put your best foot forward and show them the dream of your region.” I believe the location is perfect to show off Kelowna, Okanagan Lake, and the surrounding mountains. I am reminded by this location of my first impression of the Vancouver Convention Centre when I attended the Canadian Tourist Commissions Annual Sales Conference – Rendez-vous Canada. All I heard were “ohs” and “awes” from tourism buyers at the vistas that were created from the floor to ceiling windows with the views of the harbour and the mountains; they sold the city like no brochure or video could.

We are lucky enough to live and work in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We have the opportunity, the funds and the insight to create a legacy building for future generations of tourists who will visit Kelowna and the Central Okanagan.

The numbers of passing visitors through this area are enormous. They deserve the respect of our community to welcome them with a world-class facility. I strongly support the location and design of the proposed visitor information centre at the Queensway Jetty parking lot. Kelowna, we deserve the best as we have the best of British Columbia on offer.

Michael J. Ballingall,

senior vice-president, Big White Ski Resort Ltd.

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