Tourism fighting the fires

Tourism Kelowna’s primary goal this week is to get as many facts out to as many people as possible and as quickly as it can.

“We learned a lot of lessons as an industry last year with not just the fires, but the floods,” Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne said.

Tuesday’s lightning that sparked large wildfires in the Okanagan is big news, and Tourism Kelowna wants to make sure potential tourists don’t think the entire region is burning.

“We learned that you good folks in media have a huge influence on what the rest of Canada is thinking about Kelowna. So no pressure,” Ballantyne said with a laugh.

“I will repeat what our staff and I have been saying all week, that Kelowna is safe, open for business, and our hotels and our attractions are ready to continue welcoming people. It might be hazy out, but it’s still warm and wonderful for some sun and fun out here. Pack your bags.”

Ballantyne believes her organization is better prepared to manage situations like this week’s wildfires after creating a specific protocol for significant incidents that could affect tourism. It gathers as much information as possible from more than 900 stakeholders across the region and then dispenses it just as quickly.

It asks that tourist destinations, like campgrounds, contact them with any pertinent information to share with the world, and it receives real-time information from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.

“Like I’ve been doing all morning, I get on the phone and send e-mails, and I want to hear from folks on the business side about what’s happening and what kind of messages we have to get out,” Ballantyne said.

For more on this story, visit Okanagan Edge.

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