Letter: Tourist businesses taken to task over info centre on waterfront

If Kelowna created a competition for urban planners, not one would suggest building a 5,000-square-foot structure on the waterfront.

To the editor:

The support for a new visitor centre on the lakefront from Inn-Trust Hospitality and Quails’ Gate is revealing. After searching for what Inn-Trust actually does, I discovered that they are a hotel management company with an address in Florida who (from their website) “streamline the work process resulting in highly profitable hotels…”; they turn “around distressed and under-performing luxury and boutique hotels into highly profitable assets and market leaders.”

So Killingsworth’s support for the tourism centre downtown is attempting to assist the bottom line of a hotel somewhere in Kelowna. I don’t know which hotel. His letter is, in any case, so full of meaningless language—“we need to move to the next level,” “we need to put our best foot forward,” “be where the people are,” “studies show that the vast majority…”—that I suspect Mr. Killingsworth simply isn’t here and therefore literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he is here perhaps he could identify himself and the hotel he thinks will profit from the elimination of public waterfront in downtown Kelowna.

However, his idea that we need to have a building on the waterfront to “ensure the comfort of our visitors” is just weird. Does he think that there is a disturbing confusion in the downtown area? “Where do I go? OMG I’m lost! I think I’m in a park and enjoying it but I know I’m supposed to be spending money somewhere else….”

Tourism Kelowna itself is not the attraction. I have travelled a lot and ‘my study shows the vast majority’ of cities have tourism centres in train stations, airports and other areas where people are in transit.

There isn’t a tourism centre in the Louvre telling people what there is to do in Paris. The Louvre is the attraction.

We have natural beauty that is highly prized by visitors. There is very little we could build on the waterfront that would be more interesting than the lake. We should be very careful that we don’t eliminate the attraction in our zeal to promote tourism.

Tony Stewart is even more transparent. It seems that he considers the raison d’etre for Tourism Kelowna is to steer people from the downtown area to his winery. He trots out old standards like “the basic rule of business is go where the customers are.” Perhaps he’s planning to occupy a section of the proposed centre himself.

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that the people who go to the downtown area and walk along the waterfront or go to the beach are actually enjoying what they are doing. That’s why they’re there. They aren’t lost. It’s one of the reasons they are in Kelowna in the first place.

Tourism Kelowna shouldn’t be working for the Stewarts. Many major cities have recently done costly rehabilitation of waterfront areas, bringing them back to the public. Can we not learn from them?

If Kelowna city council created a competition for urban planners, not one of them would suggest building a 5,000-square-foot structure on the waterfront. Not for any reason. Makes you wonder who the planners are and where they got their training.

Neil Cadger, Kelowna