The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is throwing its support behind a plan to build a new visitor information centre downtown on the shores of Okanagan Lake, at the foot of Queensway.
“Kelowna with its sprawling landscapes, impressive infrastructure, outdoor art displays and public parks, is an attractive place to be,” said chamber CEO Caroline Grover in a news releases issued Wednesday.
“As residents, we know this and may take it for granted, but for first-time visitors who aren’t aware of everything our vibrant and diverse city has to offer, our visitor centre is often the place they go for guidance.”
Grover said the location of the existing visitor centre, on Harvey Avenue (Highway 97) is no longer appropriate, with new statistics indicating that tourists seek information online and in peak foot traffic areas.
“Having shared the building at the current location with Tourism Kelowna since the mid-1980s, we have seen the decline of visits to the centre,” she added.
The new site and facility that Tourism Kelowna has selected in partnership with the City of Kelowna will enhance the local economy in many ways, said Grover and it would have accessibility that is on-par with the current trends and is much more suited to today’s tourist.
“It will effectively speak to Kelowna’s offerings as it will be situated in the ‘heart of it all’. Marketing dollars and efforts will reach further, as staff will not have to refer to a brochure or map when describing the waterfront, beaches and marina. More personal contact with the visitor centre staff and volunteers will entice tourists to stay longer, to visit more attractions, and to spend more at our local businesses.”
The new $3.5 million, 5,000-square-foot building would be located on what is now a parking lot at the foot of Queensway.
Tourism Kelowna says the new building would provide it with much-needed counter space to serve visitors, deal with foot traffic and have space for interactive displays, local retail goods, brochures and marketing materials.
“We believe this has been a long time coming and is a necessary step to set the stage for a heightened profile and level of success for the vibrant future of tourism in Kelowna,” said Grover.