YLW partnership makes COVID-19 testing easier for international travellers

Making air travel easier

Kelowna International Airport is taking steps to make COVID-19 testing easier for international travellers.

There have been numerous examples of travellers running into challenges with testing and quarantine, so YLW is partnering with Whitecap RSC Medical, Big White Ski Resort, SilverStar Mountain Resort and Revelstoke Mountain Resort to provide easy access to COVID-19 testing required for international guests.

“We are putting programs in place that will help passengers feel confident they can fly into YLW and enjoy their time in the Okanagan,” said Sam Samaddar, Airport Director. “It is an added incentive for visitors to choose Kelowna when making their travel plans. Our economy has been impacted by COVID-19 and this is one way we can support our region toward a full recovery.”

The new program called the Ski Hill COVID-19 Testing program allows guests to complete their COVID-19 testing without having to make an extra trip to the airport in the middle of their vacation.

Air travel visitors to the Okanagan have complained that testing protocols can take a day or more out of their vacation and Big White and YLW have indicated that the testing protocols are a barrier to travel, for some.

“We are so happy to be able to offer this service to our guests at Big White Ski Resort. Our goal is simple: keep our staff safe, keep our guests safe, and show people the best of Okanagan hospitality,” said Michael J Ballingall, Senior Vice President, Big White Ski Resort Ltd. “This program will support our local tourism industry by assisting guests when they travel to the region and giving them the peace of mind that they can complete testing quickly and safely while staying on mountain.”

Right now only PCR test kits are available and testing drop-off locations have been set up at Big White Ski Resort, SilverStar Mountain Resort and Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The cost of the virtual testing is $195
and the kits come with instructions in the self swab testing kit that includes a QR code and web address. The code then connects to the Whitecap + Tella portal, which then allows the user to book a virtual Telehealth appointment or connect with a Whitecap Practitioner for a scheduled appointment. The virtual appointments can be done from the comfort of anywhere with Internet that will support a video call such as a home, a hotel, a lodge.

“We are excited to be able to partner with Whitecap and YLW on a program that will help support the local tourism industry and the overall economic recovery of the region,” said Cassandra Zerebeski, Executive Director, Silver Star Resort Association. “Silver Stars top priority is the health and safety of our guests, staff and community. The virtual COVID-19 testing program is an added measure toward COVID-19 safety precautions we already have in place, giving guests reliable and easy access to testing.”

YLW continues to work to recover from the economic impact caused by the pandemic but YLW has also been one of Canada’s fastest recovering airports, offering 60 daily non-stop commercial flights, both domestic and international, with nine airlines.

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