Official numbers haven’t been tallied yet, but tourism officials in the city are saying it was a great summer for local business.
“It has honestly been fantastic. Occupancy has been way up and the same with the day rate. On the reports I get that talk about our area, occupancy has been up, along with day rate across the board,” said Jessica Dolan, chair of Tourism Penticton.
Despite the odd weather patterns, with more sporadic rainy days, winery and restaurant owners told Dolan it was a good season.
“It seemed like because it wasn’t as hot, people were more out and about doing more activities in town versus just trying to stay cool,” she said. “It definitely looked like more people were riding the KVR, going for walks … exploring more, which was nice.”
Kelly Hopkins, the former Tourism Penticton executive director, recently told the Western News that the GoMedia conference held in Penticton in October, 2015 provided a boost to tourism. That conference had 120 travel writers, bloggers and journalists from around the world exploring all the area has to offer.
(read more: GoMedia unveils Penticton as a ‘secret gem’)
“A lot of those writers have European connections. They were writing pieces that went out right away digitally about all the amazing things we have here,” said Hopkins. “We definitely have seen that in some of the demographic of travellers that we hosted this summer with people from Western Europe visiting the area.”
While wineries are always popular with tourists, Hopkins said they saw a 200 per cent increase in inquiries in adventure recreation over 2015. Cycling inquiries at the Visitor Centre were up 38 per cent, nights in the community up 30 per cent and food and beverage information up 20 per cent.
One campaign Tourism Penticton held this past year was the Chain of Events. It targets travellers from Western Canada and is currently is rolling out in Washington State. The campaign highlights the area’s great bike trails. This was in collobration with the city and the Penticton And Area Cycling Association.
“Then we had all the exposure to the trails with Challenge using the Naramata area that were qualifying races for the ITU World Championships that are coming next summer. The more exposure we have to those trails, especially at that level, only helps. It is a really positive thing for cycling,” said Hopkins.
Throughout May and June, Penticton, Naramata and Summerland held cycling events and activities to show locals and tourists alike that Penticton is a bike-friendly community. Tourism Penticton also partnered with VeloFix to engage with cyclists on Saturday mornings. They would greet people at the Peach Concession on Okanagan Lake early in the morning as cyclists headed out on their rides, providing them with apples and information about events and tourist opportunities in the area.
Over the course of the year the Peach City Pics contest reached over 100,000 people on social media who were talking about #VisitPenticton. The public was encouraged to show off their photos, and Penticton as a year-round destination, using the hashtag on their social media channels.
On the ground, Tourism Penticton hosted a pop-up visitors centre at the farmers’ market and other key locations to get face-time with travellers who may not stop in at the visitors centre.
“It was key for us to be outside the bricks and mortar to engage with people in different locations, whether that was at Wright’s Campground on a busy Thursday afternoon as people were coming into the city or down at the Peach on the weekend. We were engaging with people who may not come into the visitor centre and providing them resources to plan their trip, giving them advice and pointing them to the website,” said Hopkins.
The tourist season continued to be busy as September rolled around with events like the Dragon Boat Festival and Pentastic Jazz Festival. The Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic was also a successful event, estimating to bring with it a $1.5 million economic impact over the four-days.