Rebuild after brutal summer

Armed with research that shows tourist visits to the region were down by a half a million visits during August and September, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association is getting ready to launch a campaign to “reinstall confidence” in the area after yet another devastating wildfire season.

Ingrid Dilschneider, TOTA digital marketing specialist, says the campaign will focus on the Lower Mainland and Alberta markets, where research showed many of the cancelled visits originated from during the peak of wildfire season.

“Right now we are concentrating on reinstalling confidence to our customers that we are open for business coming into the new year,” she said, noting that thankfully, tourist visits from international markets continued to grow and were not impacted by the fires.

With an estimated 3.5 million tourist visits to the region in an entire year, data showing a drop of 500,000 in just two months illustrates the brutal impact last summer’s fires had on tourism-based businesses.

Dilschneider said TOTA is excited the provincial government is embracing prescribed burning in an effort to mitigate massive fires during the fleeting summer tourist season.

TOTA meets this week in Osoyoos for its annual general meeting, bringing in stakeholders from the 90 communities in the region.

This year’s summit follows the theme of “Drive to Sustainability,” spurred by the group's certification last year as the Americas very first “Biosphere certified destination.”

The certification is awarded by the UNESCO-linked Responsible Tourism Institute and gives TOTA the responsibility to follow the 17 sustainable development goals set out by the UN, such as clean water, energy, economic growth and education.

Keynote speakers at the event this year include provincial Minister of Tourism Lisa Beare and Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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