Tourism still strong in 2017

Kelowna, and the rest of the Okanagan faced serious challenges from floods, to fires, to lingering smoke during the spring and summer of 2017.

But, despite those on-going weather-related events, Tourism Kelowna says tourism numbers were strong in 2017.

While hotel occupancy during the summer months did not match the record numbers from 2016, Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the final quarter of the year showed year-over-year growth.

September occupancy was 0.3 per cent higher than the previous year, while October (+2.7 per cent), November (+2.6 per cent) and December (+2.2 per cent), also showed steady growth.

“This is a rebound success story. Weather-related challenges aside, 2017 proved to be another year of growth for Kelowna and area," said Ballantyne.

"Our tourism businesses work hard to offer exceptional experiences throughout the year. These experiences are a major draw for Kelowna and the reason that hotel occupancy levels remained steady in 2017.”

For the entire year, Ballantyne says room occupancy dipped just 0.3 per cent over the record-setting 64.1 per cent occupancy in 2016.

“We know that the weather had an impact on local accommodators. We still saw visitors come, but some may have chosen to shorten their stay,” said Sean Coward, president of the Kelowna Hotel Motel Association.

”Kelowna had a very strong year in 2016. To see that our 2017 hotel occupancy numbers kept pace with that growth is a sign of a strong and desirable destination. We’re optimistic that growth will continue in 2018.”

More than 1.9 million people visited Kelowna and area in 2016, spending more than $337 million.

Tourism Kelowna's goal is to increase that number to three million by 2021.

The tourism industry in Kelowna employs about 12,000 people,  which generates $142 million in tax revenue.

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