Editorial: Putting out the welcome mat

Smiles can help drive our economy

Once again, the eyes of the world are going to be on Penticton starting Friday.

At least the eyes of sporting communities around the world as Penticton hosts the first-ever Multisport World Championships Festival. This huge event goes on for 10 days, from Aug. 18 to 28, with more than 3,000 athletes registered to take part in duathlons, aquathlon, aquabike, cross-triathlon and long distance triathlon events. Beyond the sporting events, there are parades and parties planned.

It promises to be a huge event, and yes, there is going to be some disruptions over the 10 days to getting around the city. It’s not like it’s anything new, after 30 years of Ironman and five of Challenge Penticton, most long-term residents are pretty used to the concept.

But more than being accepting, this is the time to make sure we put out the welcome mat in a big way. The key to this event is that it is a world championship. Though many of the competitors will coming from Canada and the U.S., others will be coming from countries around the world.

It’s important that among the souvenirs and memories they take home with them, there is also a great impression of the South Okanagan.

The championships are going to provide a much needed boost this year — helping to counter the economic effects of the flood, fire and smoke — but we want them to come back for other events, for a vacation or even just tell people what a wonderful time they had here.

It may only be a small portion of the participants and their supporters that return, but considering that the overall number is expected to be close to 10,000, even a small segment is a significant number.

The South Okanagan is a welcoming place, let’s make sure our guests know it.