Kelowna’s billion dollar business

New study finds the economic impact of tourism on the local economy is now $1.25 billion a year.

Tourism Kelowna wants to build a new visitor centre on the downtown lakeshore to help inform tourists about what this area has to offer.

New economic impact figures from Tourism Kelowna show tourism is now billion-dollar-plus contributor to the Central Okanagan economy.

And, it says, the industry that continues to grow at a steady rate.

With more than 1.9 million visitors to Kelowna annually, the tourism industry contributes more than $1.25 billion in total economic output. The sector also generates $142 million in tax revenues.

Data from the Economic Impact of Tourism in Kelowna and the Greater Kelowna Area, B.C. was released Friday by Tourism Kelowna.

“Tourism is one of the Central Okanagan’s leading industries providing jobs for residents, spending that strengthens our economy and taxation that funds programs and contributes to our quality of life,” said Nancy Cameron, Tourism Kelowna’s president and CEO.

“Tourism Kelowna’s mandate is to increase overnight visitation to benefit our local economy. We have seen visits to our destination continue to grow and this new economic impact data illustrates the importance of tourism to our communities.”

The report says total visitor spending in 2016 totalled $337 million, a 20.8 per cent increase over 2011. Of note is the significant growth in attraction and entertainment spending, which grew to $70 million from $15 million in five years.

The report also found that tourism is the third-largest employer by industry behind heath care and construction, accounting for 11,890 jobs, up 5.4 per cent over 2011.

The total gross domestic product (GDP) from tourism is now $620 million, up 49 per cent since 2011, and the total economic output is $1.25 billion, an increase of 48.8 per cent since 2011.

Total tax revenues amount to $142 million, an increase of 47.9 per cent what it was six years ago. Of that, $80 million is in federal tax revenues, $49 million in provincial tax revenues and $13 million in municipal tax revenues.

“Tourism Kelowna will continue to work hard and take advantage of opportunities to attract visitors, optimize its impact, and further grow the tourism industry,” said Cameron.

“Strategic marketing programs, strong industry partnerships, targeted sales programs, and a new visitor servicing strategy all contribute to this growth and success for the tourism industry and our communities.”

The information was compiled last fall and results are based on data from the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area, Central Okanagan Regional District and the Big White Ski Resort.

Similar reports were compiled in 2006 and 2011 to compare data.

The full report, compiled by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc, is available on Tourism Kelowna’s website at

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