The view from the top off Dilworth Mountain in Kelowna, B.C. (Tourism Kelowna)

The view from the top off Dilworth Mountain in Kelowna, B.C. (Tourism Kelowna)

Hotel visitor numbers up; length of stay down: Tourism Kelowna

‘More people may be staying with friends and family or in other accommodations, like short-term rentals or campgrounds’

The number of tourists visiting local hotels has gone up for the month of July, but they’re sticking around for a shorter period of time according to Tourism Kelowna.

In July, there were a total of 296,230 overnight visitor trips to Kelowna and compared to June’s 226,280.

Hotel occupancy in the city, however, remains lower than what it used to be in summer 2019, which was around 80 per cent.

According to Tourism Kelowna, spring hotel occupancy levels were the lowest on record as the pandemic peaked, dropping to an average of 20.9 per cent and going as low as 11.7 per cent. In 2019, hotel occupancy for the same time was around 67 per cent.

As the province moved to Phase 3 of its reopening plan and travel within B.C. started up again in time for summer, visitors returned to Kelowna, bringing the tourism numbers for the area above the provincial average, but still lower than normal.

But despite the encouraging increase in numbers, Tourism Kelowna said visitors’ length of stay is now shorter than normal.

“More people are coming to Kelowna, but they are spending less time here,” Tourism Kelowna said.

“Lower than normal hotel occupancy paired with higher than normal visitation indicates more people may be staying with friends and family or in other accommodations, like short-term rentals or campgrounds.”

For the fall, Tourism Kelowna indicated Labour Day weekend bookings are strong, but it predicted that will fall sharply after that weekend and continue at that level until the end of the year.

“This is concerning as, after a challenging first half of 2020, businesses will need to generate revenue in the second half of 2020 to continue operations.”

Tourism Kelowna said it will continue to market activities within the province until inter-provincial travel starts up again.

“Our marketing message will encourage longer stays where visitors can slow down and take in more of what Kelowna and the Central Okanagan has to offer.”

READ: More than 200 Central Okanagan residents have tested positive for COVID-19

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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