Plenty to do for residents and tourists alike in Thompson/Okanagan

The region is getting noticed far and wide and that's bringing people here, says Tourism Minister Shirley Bond.

It’s time to raise a glass when the renowned New York Magazine writes about your “exploding wine region,” and one of your ski resorts (Sun Peaks Resort) is recommended by the Ski Club of Great Britain as one of its top recommended resorts worldwide.

Whether it’s sipping or skiing, the Thompson Okanagan area is receiving international recognition for its tourism offerings.

See for yourself what the buzz is about this holiday season. There’s no shortage of fun opportunities to enjoy as this year winds down.

According to the government, this year is shaping up to be one of the busiest years for tourism in British Columbia. Year-to-date figures show an 11.9% increase in international visitors over the same time period last year (January to September).

That represents more than 4.5 million total overnight international visitors who came to B.C. during the first nine months of this year.

Tourism Minister Shirley Bond, is encouraging British Columbians to make this year an even more memorable one for the province’s tourism industry by supporting local holiday activities through a “staycation.”

“Staycations are a good way to B.C. and keep your vacation dollars circulating in B.C.’s economy,” she said.

“By visiting regional events and venues, you’re not only supporting local businesses, you’re also helping sustain important jobs in the tourism sector.

British Columbians are encouraged to tag their favourite winter staycation activities on social media with: #StaycationBC and #exploreBC.

According to Victoria, the tourism industry is helping fuel the provincial economy which is expected to lead the country in economic growth in 2016 and 2017.

Tourism supports nearly 19,000 businesses and 127,500 employees in the province.

Last year,  4.9 million international visitors came to B.C.— an eight per cent increase compared to 2014.

So if you’re looking for some ideas of what to do over the holiday season, here are jut a few of the many things from across the Thompson/Okanagan:as 2016 comes to a close:

• A Christmas Story – The Musical, Kelowna, opens Nov. 30: https://www.kelownaactorsstudio.com/shows/show/ChristmasStory/

• Kettle Valley Steam Railway – Summerland Christmas Express, Summerland, starting Dec. 10: https://www.kettlevalleyrail.org/

• CPR Holiday Train, Salmon Arm, Dec. 14: http://salmonarmdowntown.com/events/christmas-downtown

• Spirit of Christmas Rail Tour, Kamloops Heritage Railway: http://www.kamrail.com/spirit-of-christmas-railtour.php

• Past, Present and Future Christmas Eve Parade, Big White, Dec. 24: http://www.bigwhite.com/big-white-christmas-past-presents-future-christmas-eve-parade

• New Year’s Eve, Sun Peaks: http://www.sunpeaksresort.com/events-things-to-do/events/new-years-eve-celebrations