(Photo - Tourism Kelowna)

Strong performance expected for 2022 tourism in Kelowna

Gains were made amidst pandemic era in 2021

Tourism Kelowna is expecting to continue its rise out of the pandemic ashes in 2022.

The group released its industry numbers for 2021 on April 1, indicating general year-over-year gains from the first year of the pandemic in 2020.

“Early indicators and predictions for 2022 show that unless unexpected challenges arise, the local tourism industry expects a strong performance,” reads a Tourism Kelowna press release. “However, following two years of significantly-reduced revenues, it will still take time for local tourism businesses to recover losses incurred during the last two years.”

Weather-related challenges were also addressed as a reason why numbers are still down compared to the pre-pandemic era.

Approximately two million people made overnights trips to Kelowna and the Central Okanagan in 2021, an increase of 18.2 per cent over 2020. Each month saw year-over-year increases in visitation numbers except for June and August, when travel restrictions were put in place due to wildfires across the province.

Visitor numbers indicate that just over two-thirds, or 68.5 per cent, of visitors were from B.C., 12.5 per cent came from Alberta, and the remainder were almost all from other parts of Canada or the United States.

Just one per cent of visitors came from outside of North America.

Top reasons for visiting Kelowna included sightseeing (27 per cent), winery touring (26 per cent) and family vacation (25 per cent).

Traffic at the Kelowna International Airport also showed signs of recovery, with approximately 830,000 passengers going through the gates, an increase of 12.5 per cent over 2020. During pre-pandemic times, however, YLW was seeing over two million passengers annually.

“Despite a difficult 2021, the industry performed better than in the first year of the pandemic, but we know there is still a long road ahead to full recovery,” said Tourism Kelowna President and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne. “Now more than ever before, tourism businesses are showing their determination and commitment to service.”

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