Americans, the Loonie and Mother Nature responsible for high travel volume through Kelowna

The airport experienced its busiest December to date with an increase of 3.5 per cent in visitors from last year.

  • Jan. 9, 2016 10:00 a.m.

The holiday season got off to a great start this year in the Thompson Okanagan with 150,491 passengers travelling through the Kelowna (YLW) airport in December alone, effectively making it the busiest December to date with an increase of 3.5 per cent in visitors from last year.

Ski resorts in the Thompson Okanagan are also experiencing a record breaking season due to exceptional snow conditions, increased tourist visitation and a fantastic holiday season throughout the end of 2015 and into 2016.

Thanks to temperatures dropping in early November and a surplus of pristine Thompson Okanagan snow, many resorts opened ahead of schedule, with Big White opening its lifts to eager snow enthusiasts on Nov. 13, 2015, nearly two weeks earlier than expected.

“It’s always been the family’s policy to open a lift as soon as snow permits and it’s safe to do so, and that’s what we’ve done again this year” said Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice – president of Big White Ski Resort Ltd. However the snow did not stop at Big White with Sun Peaks, SilverStar and Apex Mountain Resort all opening earlier than expected thanks to heavy snowfall seen across the region.

Incredible snow conditions, holiday celebrations and a low Canadian dollar combined together to make 2015-2016 one of the best seasons in history. With visitors from Ontario, Australia, New Zealand and across the world travelling to the Thompson Okanagan to experience its famous “Champagne Powder” and the many other mountain activities it has to offer.

“A big draw for Australians is the resort’s Family Snowsports Academy” said Moragh MacAulay, Media Coordinator for SilverStar “We get young racers, skiers and snowboarders. The parents take lessons; the kids do training at the Snowsports School.”

B.C. Ski resorts are on a roll thanks to record breaking snowfalls, higher revenues and local excitement, and it’s not going to stop there.

“Increased visits from the U.S. has driven more than just Christmas numbers” said Christopher Nicolson, president of Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. “A significant rise in Presidents’ week vacationers has boosted February bookings by 16 per cent.”

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