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Tourism minister announces boost for Okanagan’s wine industry in wake of wine dispute

The 2018 BC Tourism Awards wrapped up with a funding announcement to give the province’s wine industry a boost on Friday.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare was on hand to help present the awards.

“Swift and meaningful action must be taken to support the thousands of British Columbians who rely on tourism for jobs that pay their bills and support their families,” Beare said.

“Our government is launching a new $150,000 campaign to promote wine and food tourism to immediately address challenges faced by B.C. tourism in our wine regions.”

The money comes in the wake of a short but serious wine dispute between Alberta and B.C. over the pipeline expansion project, with Alberta temporarily banning the import of B.C. wines.

Okanagan wineries call Alberta’s ban on the import of B.C. wine unexpected and unfair

“We know the wine tourism operators have had a difficult couple of months so our government is committed continually to supporting them,” Beare said.

The money will go to Destination B.C., the province’s tourism marketing agency.

It will be used to encourage British Columbians to include wine country as part of their vacation plans. It will also target international tourists promoting B.C. as a world class wine and culinary destination.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the wine institute and the wine industry even more aggressively than we already do,” Destination B.C. CEO Marsha Walden said.

Many Okanagan wineries have expressed concern about Albertans boycotting the industry all together this season because of the tension between the two provinces.

“We are always very concerned about our relationship with them and continue to make it a great experience to come to British Columbia,” Walden said. “I am very confident that that relationship will continue in the future. This may have been a little hiccup along the way but I feel very positive about the future.”

The Minister also announced the creation of a new Minister’s Tourism Engagement Council that will act as a broad-based advisory group, representing a diverse range of industry experts from across the tourism sector.

The group will help shape tourism policy and strategy and come up with ideas to help strengthen the industry.

A new tourism strategy is expected to be announced this spring.

The 2018 BC Tourism Award winners include:

Employees First Award: Island Lake Lodge
B.C. Destination Marketing Organization Association Professional Excellence Award: Tourism Chilliwack
Remarkable Experience Award: Spirit of the West Adventures
Innovation Award: Fairmont Hotels World Class Wild Campaign
Customer Service Award: Bram Bolwijn, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

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