Three local projects were recognized for special recognition by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association’s 2011 Tourism Excellence Awards.
The awards—recognizing tourism-related businesses and organizations from Valemount, Sun Peaks, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and West Kelowna—were presented at the region’s Tourism Summit held earlier this month at Sun Peaks.
In the category of technology and innovation, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society was honoured for its innovative use of technology to improve its operations, employee procedures and guest experiences.
The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has demonstrated leadership in its extensive use of social media to promote the valley’s four annual wine festivals.
It has launched a free iTunes application that includes information on member wineries, accommodations, restaurants and events—and a feature where individuals can rate the wines that they taste.
It has used its website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr YouTube, blogs and discount websites extensively for contests, sharing videos and building awareness.
The Community Sport Tourism award was shared by the City of Kamloops and Tourism Kelowna.
The award recognizes that these organizations have demonstrated a community partnership between sport and tourism which has resulted in increased tourism revenues.
Westside Wine Trail Co-operative won the award in the tourism marketing category for under $15,000.
This award recognizes that this organization has implemented a creative, comprehensive and innovative marketing program which has resulted in increased tourism revenues.
With support from the District of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the Central Okanagan Regional District, the Westside Wine Trail Co-operative—a joint effort of nine wineries—–launched a Summer Passport marketing initiative in 2011 to promote the recently developed wine trail.
The promotion included winery addresses and locations on a map, a business-supported prize structure, leveraged exposure through the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society website and social media, and various other promotion methods aimed at key markets such as Vancouver and Calgary.
With 7,000 printed passports distributed and digital passports available on the Wine Trail website, the project evaluation showed that the Passport initiative increased awareness of the Westside Wine Trail, increased visitation to the wineries.
Guests also appeared to enjoy the Passport promotion, wanted to visit other wineries along the Westside Wine Trail, and indicated a willingness to take part in the passport promotion again.
TOTA board chair Ingrid Jarrett said: “Each one of these winners is very deserving of their award, and we are pleased to recognize the innovation and excellence of our tourism industry through this annual awards program.”
Local A&W Restaurants will participate in the 4th annual Breath of Life Day on Saturday, Dec. 3, a local fundraiser to help infants, children and young adults with their daily battle against cystic fibrosis.
One dollar for every burger sold and 100 per cent of all pledges raised on Dec. 3 will be donated to Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
There will be burger specials, balloons, free root beer refills, visits by the Great Root Bear, and more. There will also be prizes to win.
“We deeply appreciate A&W’s generous support. With partners like A&W, we are working to sustain our research efforts to find an effective control and a cure for cystic fibrosis, a truly devastating disease,” said Jody Birnie, president, Okanagan Valley chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
Cystic fibrosis affects mainly the lungs and the digestive system. It is the most common, fatal, genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. For more information, visit www.cysticfibrosis.ca.
Hotel wins award
The Holiday Inn Express Kelowna Conference Centre has been recognized by the InterContinental Hotels Group for its extensive renovation and modernization of the hotel.
The award was presented to the hotel’s management team at the 2011 InterContinental Hotels Group Americas Investors & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.
“The upgrades completed at our hotel provide for a much greater guest experience,” said Michael Wynne, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express Kelowna Conference Centre.
“The new conference space and catering services, together with our enhanced room product, make Holiday Inn Express Kelowna Conference Centre the destination for corporate and group functions.”
The hotel completed a $13 million, seven-storey expansion in 2011 which adjoins to the existing hotel. The hotel features a total of 190 rooms, new meeting facilities, executive-class rooms, business and family suites, a spacious fitness facility and an indoor pool with two waterslides.
“The decision to proceed with the expansion project was supported by a solid business case and a strong team of employees,” said Aodhan Sheahan, director of hospitality operations, Western Canada, Fortis Properties Corporation.
“Having received much positive feedback from our customers, we are pleased to receive this recognition from our operating brand.”
The City of Kelowna recreation and culture division wants to thank the community for supporting the recent Family Monster Bash held at the Capital News Centre on Oct 30.
Some 1,400 people were able to enjoy free ice skating, Halloween themed activity stations and games and fun on the indoor fields.
Through donations at the door we were able to provide the Kelowna Community Food Bank with over 1,200 pounds of food and $800 cash.
The city also wants to thank the sponsors of the event: Source Graphics & Printing Co. Ltd.; Extra Foods—Capri Centre; Paragon Pharmacies; and the staff at the Capital News Centre for their support.
Also providing volunteer support were School District 23, the Okanagan College international program, Kelowna Hostesses and city recreation and culture division staff.
The Junior Achievement of British Columbia will induct three business leaders into the 2012 Business Laureates of BC Hall of Fame: Brian Canfield, Dave Ritchie and Milton Wong.
The new members will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame at the seventh Annual Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremonies on May 24, 2012, at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Dave Ritchie started a small auctioneer business in Kelowna which has since risen to become a worldwide billion dollar industry, Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers.