Cycling is a primary focus for Tourism Vernon. (NOCS photo)

Cycling is a primary focus for Tourism Vernon. (NOCS photo)

Cycling as an Okanagan community in focus for Vernon Tourism

“Now, Tourism Vernon is, not only looking at our partners, but with our neighbouring cities to get people to make a multi-destination visit around the Okanagan.”

Despite several air and smoke advisories issued throughout the year, many are still flocking to the Okanagan to visit, travel and experience all activities that the valley has to offer.

Vernon is no exception.

Tourism Vernon manager Angeline Chew said the department has worked hard over the past year to create more year-round activities and opportunities to offer to Vernonites and visitors alike. One of the main focus for 2018 was on biking paths.

With a goal of joining communities around the valley to one another via paths, Tourism Vernon began a partnership with the B.C. Mountain biking Association to launch a Mountain Biking corridor from Penticton to Vernon called the Sagebrush Singletrack trail.

“It’s a lot like the Sea to Sky corridor but we actually have one for the Okanagan now and we’re working with our sector partner and that’s a new accomplishment for us. We also participated with the B.C. Ale trail so we formed an ale trail with the Shuswap, Kamloops and ourselves and it’s called the Triang-ale Trail,” said Chew. “We’re now part of the B.C. Ale Trail program.”

Another accomplishment Chew noted was the continuation of the golf consortium.

“We formed a golf consortium with the B.C. golf alliance so Vernon is now being marketed as a stand-alone destination so that’s another pretty big accomplishment.”

Despite the focus on outdoor activities and sports, Chew said that the smoke did affect the number of tourists visiting the area — specifically in the fall.

“Overall, we ended up being quite flat for July and August, which is actually better than our valley partners because we had smoke, but we didn’t have fires,” she said. “Having been the second year that wildfires caused smoke in the area, she said so we really saw it in our fall bookings because it was down and our weather was not nice. Unfortunately travel, especially fall travel, it’s very much weather dependent so we really hope it’s a clear summer this year.”

Related: Tourism is economic force in British Columbia with 6.1 million visits: ministry

Related: Reporter takes a first-time crack at bike trails

Another big change for the tourism department was an increase in hotel tax. In 2018, it saw an increase from two per cent to three per cent — a 40 per cent increase in funding dollars from the year before.

“Since 2010 and the introduction of the hotel tax or the RDT — the regional district tax — we’ve had records years,” said Chew, noting several changes in the hotel industry around town.

In 2018, the city’s tourism department garnered $37,200,725 in Municipal Regional District Tax revenue — an increase of 0.8 per cent in comparison to 2017. According to the Tourism Department, both gross and net (minus administration fees and Tourism Event Program), contributions for the year reached over $1 million in revenues for the first time.

So, what’s to come in 2019?

From artisanal foods to stunning lakes to biking and trails to the year-round farmers market to various sporting activities offered around SilverStar, it’s clear that Vernon has become a travel destination — and rightfully so. The tourism department is hoping to continue to showcase that more this year.

“For 2019, we have seven Destination B.C. sector and regional projects in the works and all these projects are through Destination B.C. who nearly matches our funds and then our partners all contribute also so for us,” said Chew. “We only put in $74,000 ourselves but we’re leveraging our funding into almost $500,000 worth of campaigns because these projects involve multiple partners.”

She said that this is the second year that they have participated.

“Now, Tourism Vernon is, not only looking at our partners, but with our neighbouring cities to get people to make a multi-destination visit around the Okanagan.”

This is also why biking will continue to be a large focus in 2019. May 2-5 will mark the third annual Vernon bike festival. Chew said that the focus will be on bridging the cycling event, not only to showcase other sporting events in the area, but also to the culture that Vernon offers.

“So whether it will have music or will feature artists work along the trail, we’re really trying to show the diversity and merging sports with culture and really show the depth that Vernon has to offer,” she said.

Noting the city’s recent focus on bike access and transportation by creating a path from downtown to Kalamalka Lake, Chew said Vernon is becoming more user-friendly for bikers, allowing access from hotels right to existing and new paths.

“It fits into our city philosophy, which is ‘Activate Life’. For tourism, we think of wellness and being active and now we’re a four-season destination that allows for people to enjoy and connect with nature,” said Chew. “You don’t have to be in a gym to work out here; you could go snowshoeing, flat biking, hiking in the winter so there are year-round activities that are offered in Vernon.”

Related: Study shows increase in mountain bike tourism in B.C.

Related: It’s almost time to wine tour again in Kelowna

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A crane stands in the middle of a fire-ravaged Glenmore Road construction site on Thursday, April 8. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Evacuation order remains in effect around burned Glenmore Road construction site

Assessment of potentially risky crane to take place this afternoon

Kelowna-based company GTEC Cannabis Co. has paid off $6 million in debts. (GTEC Cannabis Co. - Facebook)
Kelowna cannabis company pays off $6M debt

GTEC Cannabis Co. is now one of the few debt-free companies in the sector

Mainly clear and sunny skies are expected for the Okanagan-Shuswap region this week. (Maxpixels photo)
Warm, sunny week ahead in Okanagan-Shuswap

Daytime highs will reach the low 20s with mainly clear skies this week

Royal LePage Arena was an addition to West Kelowna championed by Len Novakowski. (File photo)
West Kelowna community leader Novakowski dies

Former Westside regional district director Len Novakowski dies after lengthy health battle

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

Construction has begun on Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project, with lengthy closures on the way. (Claire Palmer photo)
Construction has begun on Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project, with lengthy closures planned for the next four weeks. (Claire Palmer photo)
24-hour Trans-Canada closures begin east of Golden

It’s the final phase of the Kicking Horse Canyon construction project, which is realigning and widneing the higwya

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra performed Exsultate, a live-streamed all-Mozart concert, on April 10. (Contributed)
REVIEW: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra exalts in Mozart

Live-streamed, all-Mozart concert was held on April 10

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Clarence Fulton is the latest in six Vernon schools to have COVID-19 exposures. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19 exposures at six Vernon schools

List has grown over the last week, sending more students home for self-isolation

Most Read