The Okanagan is no longer the hidden gem it was years ago. Each summer the region welcomes more and more tourists, and hotel experts are expecting them to rise in number once again this year.
The 2023 BC Hotel Association Summit is in Kelowna, B.C., this year and up for discussion is the state of tourism in B.C.
“I can proudly say British Columbia is leading the country when it comes to getting back to business,” said Ingrid Jarrett, BC Hotel Association president and CEO.
At the conference, hotel owners and operators took part in networking and shared their tricks of the trade for the upcoming season.
“As business trends change, sharing our wins, best practices and new innovations, there’s so much technology and all different things that are driving our business today. It really helps all of us to stay abreast of that,” Jarrett said.
So far in 2023, the industry is experiencing a strong spring with more worldwide travellers coming into B.C.
“We’re seeing the meeting market come back. We’re seeing Europe come back. Mexico is a really strong demand driver for us. Australia and New Zealand are coming back,” Jarrett said.
Coming out of the pandemic, more people were looking to get back to vacations and that means hotels were booking up quickly. That was especially true last year in the Okanagan.
“Domestic demand went through the roof once we started to come out of COVID because people still weren’t comfortable travelling across the border or internationally,” said Eden Fay, vice president of the Kelowna Hotel Motel Association.
“I think it was a great opportunity for Kelowna to be discovered by the rest of Canada and everyone else in North America.”
Kelowna welcomes around two million tourists a year and hotel operators expect that number to grow in 2023 as more people come to experience the valley.
The four months of summer are a key period for operators, Fay said.
“Summer in Kelowna is typically our busiest time,” Fay said. “That’s when you make the bulk of your money to get you through the rest of the year.”
According to Tourism Kelowna, tourists spend close to $450 million at local businesses in the city each year.
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