Federal tourism funding

The team at Tourism Kelowna, under the direction of CEO Nancy Cameron, has always done an incredible job of working with local municipalities and Chambers of Commerce to market and promote the Okanagan as a premier destination for travellers.

@Tourism_Kelowna for instance provides would-be travellers with a sense of the wide range of activities and sights that would make a trip here worthwhile, whether it’s outdoor yoga followed by a glass of wine at one of our beautiful vineyards, or a public beach where you can kick off your shoes and enjoy the sun. 

According to a 2015 Destination BC Regional Tourism Profile of the Thompson-Okanagan, in 2012, overnight tourism in the Thompson Okanagan generated 3.8 million visits and $1.1 billion in related spending.

Of those travellers, Canadians visiting the Thompson Okanagan stayed 3.3 nights and spent $119 per night during their trip. 

In comparison, US travel parties stayed 3.5 nights and spent $193 per night during their trip.  Yet, while they stayed longer and spent more, US visitors represent only about 6% of all overnight travellers who visit the Okanagan.

It’s clear that attracting more US visitors to our region would generate more business for our local economy.

To this end, I was pleased to learn that on May 22, 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $30 million over three years for a major new tourism campaign entitled Connecting America to attract more American visitors to destinations across Canada.

The initiative will enable the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) to collaborate with partners in the private sector, international travel trade (e.g., travel agents, tour operators) and the provinces and territories to promote Canada as a premier tourism destination, creating exciting new opportunities for the sector.

Connecting America has already met with favourable feedback from organizations like the Hotel Association of Canada.

The Government of Canada has long recognized the importance of our cultural and tourism sectors to the economy and is committed to supporting them. Through Canada’s Federal Tourism Strategy, the government is supporting Canada’s tourism industry to take advantage of international growth opportunities, increase tourism revenues and create jobs in Canada.

This includes measures like negotiating new or expanded bilateral air services agreements and visa initiatives like ten year multiple-entry visas and the Can+ visa program for low-risk travellers from some of our highest growth markets, including India and Mexico.

Given the changes in market conditions in the U.S. and federal-provincial-territorial and industry support, the time is opportune for the CTC to resume marketing activities in the U.S.

The Okanagan is a premier four-season tourism destination with one of the best airports in the country to facilitate travel from the US.  I am hopeful that this injection of funding will attract more American visitors to our region and generate more jobs and growth for the many local businesses that rely on tourism in our communities.


Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected]. 

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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