A group of youth from all over the world are checking out Kelowna’s tourism industry this week.
The Ogopogo Rotary Club is hosting a delegation of high school students interested in how the tourism industry works in this part of the world.
“We highlight a lot of the tourist venues to give the students a look in behind the scenes…We go inside the Grand Hotel. We see the laundry room; we see how a hotel operates and then we see the front, what the tourist sees, and we relate the two,” said Paul Cleland, director of the Adventures in Tourism program.
Cleland worked in sales and marketing with IBM Canada until he retired to Kelowna and started the first Okanagan Wine Tours bus and the Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival.
The festival was a huge success right out of the gate.
“That first year Walter Gray, who was the mayor then as well as now, and council wrote us a letter saying they estimated we brought in $1.5 million into the economy that weekend,” said Cleland.
Cleland then taught tourism marketing at Okanagan College, a role that primes him for working with the students sent on this trip, like Alana Kakuk.
Kakuk said her mother is in Rotary and, knowing she has been looking at tourism jobs as a potential future path, helped her get a spot in the experience.
“I’ve gone to a bunch of places and stuff, but I’ve never done anything really involving tourism. It’s a lot of fun,” said the Drumheller resident. “I guess this is sort of like an eye opener.”
For Melissa Manning, of Western Australia, the trip marked her first time as a passenger on a plane and an opportunity to put some of her studies to practice. The 18-year-old is doing a travel and tourism diploma program and had to win her position with an essay.
“I love it. The plane over, I actually got my breath taken away. I’ve never seen snow before,” she said. “It’s been a big experience. The jet lag is finally wearing off now. All of our speakers have been really good and have given us an explanation of how tourism works in Canada.”
Manning said the experience got her interested enough to want to come back to Canada, possibly to work in a ski resort.
The Adventures programs offered by Rotary features a variety of professions applicable to the regions that operate each program. Prince George hosts one on forestry, for example, and there is one on government in Ottawa.
The students visiting Kelowna saw the airport, the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, the Mission Creek Regional Park Environmental Education Centre, H2O Fitness Centre, Sparkling Hill and Harvest Golf Course to name just a few of their stops.
This year students from Scotland, Japan and Australia joined those from across Canada.