Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says 2017 was a “rebound success story for tourism in the city. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Despite floods and fires, Kelowna tourism stayed the course in 2017

Tourism Kelowna says overall, 2017 was on par with previous years for number of visitors to the city

Tourism Kelowna says despite the challenges presented by the flooding and forest fires last year, plenty of people still visited Kelowna and area.

Overnight visits to the area remained strong throughout 2017 despite the weather-related challenges said the tourism organization in a news release Friday. Kelowna and area saw continued growth and development with visitors coming for a vacation or to attend a meeting, conference, or event.

“This is a rebound success story. Weather-related challenges aside, 2017 proved to be another year of growth for Kelowna and area,” said Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna.

“Our tourism businesses work hard to offer exceptional experiences throughout the year. These experiences are a major draw for Kelowna and the reason that hotel occupancy levels remained steady in 2017.”

Hotel occupancy during the summer months remained strong, but did not match 2016, while the final months of 2017 saw year-over-year growth in hotel occupancy numbers, including September (+0.3 per cent), October (+2.7 per cent), November (+2.6 per cent) and December (+2.2 per cent).

Overall, 2017’s year-over-year hotel occupancy remained virtually on par with 2016, dropping just 0.3 per cent from the high recorded in the city in 2016 at 64.1 per cent. Since 2012, Kelowna’s hotel average occupancy levels have risen from 51.8 per cent to 63.7 per cent per year.

“We know that the weather had an impact on local accommodators,” said Sean Coward, president of the Kelowna Hotel Motel Association. “We still saw visitors come, but some may have chosen to shorten their stay. Kelowna had a very strong year in 2016. To see that our 2017 hotel occupancy numbers kept pace with that growth is a sign of a strong and desirable destination.”

He said the industry is optimistic the growth will continue in 2018.

One of Tourism Kelowna’s tasks is to drive overnight visits to Kelowna and the surrounding communities throughout the year.

In 2016, more than 1.9 million visitors came to the area and spent $337 million dollars. Overall, the tourism industry contributes more than $1.25 billion to the overall regional economy and provides nearly 12,000 jobs and generates $142 million in tax revenues.

Tourism Kelowna’s goal is to welcome three million visitors annually by 2021.

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