2019 Skate Canada International brought $4.5 million to Kelowna

Skating brings tourism boost

Kelowna got a tourism boost in more ways than one this October when it hosted the 2019 Skate Canada International, garnering millions in spending and international media attention.

A report commissioned by Tourism Kelowna found the event generated $5.3 million in economic activity, with $4.5 million of that directly in the Kelowna area. 

Ticketing information shows 3500 out-of-town visitors travelled to Kelowna for the event, including 45 per cent who were first-time visitors to the city. 

International visitors came from Japan, the U.S., Australia, China, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland and Taiwan. 

On average, out-of-town visitors stayed for four nights, and visited attractions such as wineries, local restaurants, shops, hiking or biking trails and galleries or museums.

Surveys found 94 per cent of attendees were satisfied with their time in Kelowna and 87 per cent said they are likely to return. 

Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the 2019 event provided an opportunity to showcase Kelowna, and for her team to provide a first-class visitor experience. 

“Through our major events strategy, Tourism Kelowna and the City of Kelowna work together to secure bids for national and international events that we can host during our traditionally slower tourism months. Events like Skate Canada bring new spending to the market that benefits our city and region and many local businesses directly.

"As soon as competitors and spectators arrive for an event, our visitor experience strategy begins. Our team was in the arena, at the downtown Kelowna Visitor Centre, and at the arrivals area at Kelowna International Airport to greet visitors, answer questions, and encourage visitors to explore Kelowna and visit local businesses. Our goal is great reviews, increased spending, and return visits.”

Beyond the spectators, the event attracted 60 athletes from 14 countries, requiring an estimated 1,800 hotel room nights for athletes, coaches and event organizers alone. 

The next big sporting events coming to Kelowna include the World Mixed Doubles and Senior Curling Championships in April 2020, the Memorial Cup in May 2020 and the Tim Hortons Brier in March 2021.

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