Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Challenging year for Kelowna tourism

But while 2017 presented challenges, it also provided opportunities says new Tourism Kelowna CEO

Tourism Kelowna’s new CEO says 2017 was an “interesting” year for the tourist industry in the city, a year that presented both challenges and opportunities.

Speaking after her presentation at Tourism Kelowna’s AGM Tuesday, Lisanne Ballantyne said with the late spring flooding and the subsequent wildfires in other parts of the province that blanketed the valley in smoke for several weeks in the early summer, the tourism industry did take a hit. But it rebounded well.

“This year was challenging with the weather, but how we rebounded was important,” said Ballantyne, who took over from long-time CEO Nancy Cameron six weeks ago. Cameron left the position in the summer to move to Vancouver Island.

Related story: Kelowna Tourism hires new CEO

But while the weather had an impact on tourism in the city this year, it was not all gloom and doom.

Tourism Kelowna’s new lake-shore visitor centre, planned for the foot of Queensway, got the go-ahead from city council despite vocal opposition from some in the community upset about its location.

But Ballantyne said the new centre is needed, not just because the existing visitor centre on Harvey Avenue is too small but also because the location of the centre puts it where the people are, in the heart of downtown.

According to the Tourism Kelowna CEO, the days of tourists arriving in RVs in large numbers and being handed brochures directing them to local tourist attractions are over.

“A visitor centre counsellor has to be part of the visitor experience nowadays,” she said.

Visitors typically book travel over the internet and when they arrive at a destination seek assistance in creating a personalized itinerary to experience what a city has to offer, based of their individual preferences. And they want to access that information on the technology they carry with them, such as cell phones and tablets.

“The days of us handing out brochures are over,” she said.

That is why the new visitor centre, located where the people are, will be so important, she said.

The new 3,000-square-foot glass, wood and concrete building is expected to be completed by next summer.

In the meantime, the local tourist industry will continue its push to attract visitors in the winter months in its bid to make Kelowna a year-round destination, said Ballantyne.

She said since coming here, she has been impressed by the willingness of local tourism-related businesses to work together, something she said is not always the case elsewhere.

“On the tourism side, we are pretty selfless here,” she said.

And that approach not only helps keep visitors here longer but makes them want to return, she added.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mercury rises in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures reach about 36 C with humidex in the Okanagan and Shuswap

Author donates half of funds to a Kelowna foundation

Steena Holmes is donating half the funds raised from her paperback sales

Truck smashes into tree in West Kelowna

The truck was reported to be driving erratically before the crash

Road work closes a section of Richter Street in Kelowna

Installation of a new water main has closed the portion between Stockwell and Cawston Avenues

New summer bus route for West Kelowna

Gellatly Road service expanded on weekends, holidays

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

Hergott, does he hate cell phones?

Lawyer Paul Hergott puts to rest the argument he has something against a handheld device

UPDATED: Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

Emily Blackmore was found guilty of taking her underage daughter to U.S. to marry church leader

B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

All 120 operations will need agreements by 2022, province says

Family of 4 from Oregon believed to be missing in northern B.C.

RCMP, Search and Rescue crews searching area where vehicle was abandoned

Pickle Ball Depot picks up award

Vernon business earns Business Examiner’s Retailer of the Year

B.C. creates public registry to track real estate owners

The first registry of its kind in Canada aims to end the hidden property ownership

Most Read