The response to the GoMedia conference held in Penticton this past week was so good, some journalists and destination delegates from around the world are sticking around for a few more days.
Rob Taylor, vice president Tourism Industry Association of Canada, who helped organize the GoMedia Canada Marketplace in 2015 with Destinations Canada, said there are no shortage of reasons to stay.
“When you look around the world some of the most highly sought after experiences are culinary, wine tourism, cycling, hiking, natural experiences and you’ve got them all here nestled in a gorgeous little community,” Taylor said.
Around 145 delegates from destinations around the world representing resorts, ski destinations, tourism organizations and other industry reps joined 120 travel writers, bloggers and journalists to do a “speed dating” style of connecting, with Penticton as the picturesque backdrop.
Word around the conference was that many people didn’t know what was in store for them as they flew into Penticton
“Penticton is kind of this secret gem,” Taylor said. “Everybody knows about Vancouver when it comes to British Columbia, everybody knows about Whistler and the Rockies, but a lot of people didn’t know just the incredible beauty.”
“Some of the people from Europe were making reference that it’s like a Tuscan adventure here, but with beauty that far surpasses, in terms of physical beauty,” Taylor said.
Delegates and media were taken on tours giving them the typical taste of the Okanagan including wine tours, outdoor activities like rock climbing and cycling and much more of what Penticton and the Okanagan have to offer.
“This put us on a worldwide stage,” said Kelly Hopkins, executive director of Tourism Penticton.
“It was phenomenal. The calibre of tours that were provided to our media were top-notch and the feedback in regards to the event, food and wine and hospitality in our community so far exceeded any expectations of both partners and media,” Hopkins said.
Not only will the experiences shared here spread the word about Penticton, but the money spent by those touring the area has already cancelled out the cost of sponsoring the event for the city.
“It will recoup an amazing amount of coverage specifically for Penticton and Wine Country,” Hopkins said.
Tourism delegates paid their own way including hotels and accommodations, almost instantly paying for the $125,000 sponsorship from the city, which is the only cost to the city aside from the nominal cost to bid for the role of host.
“In terms of return on investment (the $125,000 sponsorship) is a small drop in a large bucket,” Hopkins said. “We’ve more than made our money back just even bringing those partners in.”