Alistar Waters photo

Kelowna Visitor Centre is open in time for Canada Day

The visitor centre will be open daily along the waterfront

The new Kelowna Visitor Centre opened today in advance of the Canada Day long weekend and busy summer travel months.

The downtown location will be able to better help the 420,000 pedestrians that walk the waterfront boardwalk each year.

“Tourism Kelowna is proud and excited to open our new Kelowna Visitor Centre as an important new addition to our community,” Thom Killingsworth, chair of Tourism Kelowna’s board of directors said in a press release. “As a sought-after and growing destination for visitors, and an incredible place to call home, we look forward to serving our community and visitors who come from across the world. A strong visitor experience includes a well-positioned visitor information centre and innovative visitor experience strategy, which will keep visitors coming back to Kelowna and continued growth of our local economy.”

Related: Tourism Kelowna adopts sustainability initiative

The Kelowna Visitor Centre was delivered on schedule and on budget at $2.8 million.

Tourism Kelowna’s visitor experience team, which includes 60 volunteers, is ready to take advantage of the new location, and expects to assist over 100,000 visitors and residents each year. The visitor centre hours of operation will be expanded through the summer months from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Limited-edition merchandise and custom, local products will be featured and rotated seasonally. An enhanced experience booking system will reserve Kelowna and Okanagan Valley experiences for residents and visitors, and the visitor experience team will sell event tickets, bus passes, offer free public WI-FI, and make reservations at local attractions and accommodations for guests.

Working with Kelowna Museums and the Westbank First Nations, historical and Indigenous interpretive panels were created to highlight Kelowna’s recent and ancient histories. Additional programming and community partnerships will be developed to make use of the location between Kerry and Stuart parks to provide a fully activated and energetic space that’s open to everyone.

Related: Banner year for Okanagan tourism predicted

Tourism Kelowna’s mobile visitor centre will also pop up at events and locations around town to assist and engage with residents and visitors. Tourism Kelowna will operate a visitor information kiosk at Kelowna International Airport.

“When visitors arrive in Kelowna, we want them to know – and feel – that they are at the centre of an incredible destination,”Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna said in a press release. “Our visitor experience team will help connect residents and visitors with the best the Okanagan Valley has to offer. Everything from food and wine experiences to year-round outdoor adventures is all right here. We want to set a new benchmark for enjoyment here in Kelowna, and we want visitors to have the time of their lives and start thinking about their return visit – or a possible move here – even before their visit is done.”

The Government of British Columbia provided a $500,000 provincial grant towards construction of the project and the City of Kelowna provided a lease for the land.

Related: Tourism minister unveils new marketing campaign

“We recognize tourism injects millions of dollars into the local economy and creates jobs in our city,” Mayor Colin Basran said in a press release. “A new home for Tourism Kelowna has been a Council priority since 2012 and the City’s contribution of land for the Kelowna Visitor Centre through a 29-year non-market lease will help meet the needs of residents and visitors to keep our economy moving.”

“We look forward to welcoming and serving millions more residents and visitors to Kelowna and area,” Ballantyne said in a press release. “Our ongoing work to market and develop our destination and provide an incredible visitor experience will further position Kelowna as a top destination in North America for four-season visitation, and a must-visit city.”

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