Letter: Kelowna Chamber clarifies travel arrangements

Our programs enhance our travel industry partners…They all, including Wells Gray Tours, make money from tours, and that money stays locally.

To the editor:

In response to a letter from Wells Gray Tours (Kelowna Chamber Uses US Company to Arrange Travel, April 8 Kelowna Capital News) citing that the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is taking business outside of the community, we would like to clarify points where the author of the letter is mistaken.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has a fair and transparent process for bids for our Travel and Learn program. All bidders must be members of the Kelowna Chamber and they know what the rules are when they bid.

People understand that it is a competitive world and competitive bidding process, not everyone wins the bid.

Most recently the bid for a trip to Iceland offered 12 days notice to bid and three companies responded within that time line.

Wells Gray Tours was not able to respond within this timeline despite a two-week extension.

We were delighted to work with Wells Gray previously on the second trip we hosted to China. They are an excellent company with a long history. The current trip is with a local travel agent, Marlin Travel, which is working with tour operator Collette Tours, a Canadian company of 25 years, headquartered in Ontario and with an office in Surrey.

It is unfortunate Mr. Neave seemed unaware of all the details.  Our travel programs actually enhance our travel industry partners through our extensive marketing programs, information sessions, online advertising and other media promotion. They all, including Wells Gray Tours, make money from tours, and that money stays locally.

Tour money goes to airlines, hotels, restaurants and tour guides in the destination cities. A fee is also paid to the tour operator, and to the Chamber, in addition to the fees kept by the local travel agents.

We welcome suggestions and feedback from our membership as part of our regular review of processes and look forward to working with our member Wells Gray Tours and others in the years ahead.

Caroline Grover, CEO

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce