City of Penticton hopes for tourism groups to align

If Penticton City Council has its way, 2016 will see tourism marketing for the city back in the control of a single organization

If Penticton City Council has its way, 2016 will see tourism marketing for the city back in the control of a single organization.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, while discussing the 2016 tourism budget, brought up the possibility of a reconciliation between Tourism Penticton and the Penticton Hospitality Association.

“I know the two chairs of Tourism (Penticton) and the PHA have been talking about trying to work together as one sort of voice and body,” said Jakubeit after Coun. Sentes questioned whether the $354,000 the city invests in Tourism Penticton paralleled the work being done by the PHA with funds from the two per cent additional hotel room tax.

Jakubeit later confirmed that the conversation about aligning the two groups had begun.

“They were open, or their boards were open, to have that conversation. They recognize that hasn’t been that functional over the past few years,” said Jakubeit. “Talk is cheap and we had basically said ‘you need to get closer to one organization.’”

Tourism Penticton and the PHA have been operating in separate silos, with both groups running campaigns to market the area since 2012, when the city signed a five-year contract giving control of the additional hotel room tax funds — about $400,000 to $450,000 per year — to the PHA.

The split started in late 2011, when the council of the day stripped the contract for tourism services from the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and awarded it to a private organization, the Penticton Business Development Group, which collapsed in Feb. 2012.

Since then, there have been attempts to align the groups or to create a single tourism marketing board, but those have failed. Jakubeit said he thinks the groups have developed a framework that might lead to the groups coming together in early spring.

“I know they are verbally committed to working toward that. We will try to hold them accountable to making that happen,” said Jakubeit.

Tourism Penticton is budgeted at $354,000 per year over the next five years. Kelly Hopkins, executive director of the organization, said about $195,000 goes to visitor services and $158,913 is earmarked for marketing.