Travel Penticton is working hard to correct the impression that fires burning throughout B.C. are affecting tourism prospects in Penticton.
“Penticton and the Okanagan in general, excepting the quick spot fire, has been in excellent shape,” said Thom Tischik, executive director of Travel Penticton, adding that he has heard of hotel cancellations throughout the South Okanagan and lower volumes at area attractions.
Jessica Dolan, general manager of the Ramada Penticton, said dealing with the perception is a problem.
“They call and wonder ‘is everything on fire?’,” said Dolan. Other than the recent smoky days, it has been clear weather.
“The weather has been spectacular for visitors, but that just hasn’t been the message they are getting,” said Dolan “We’ve had cancellations, there has been some last minute pickup, but just not what we are used to seeing in July and August.”
Tischik said he has heard from other accommodators that some cancellations are being filled by new visitors, and says people shouldn’t waste the chance for a last-minute trip to the South Okanagan.
“It has been brilliant, the water is fantastic, the skies have been crystal clear and absolutely, it’s a time to come,” he said. “It’s very simple. We’ve still got the lakes, we’ve still got the beaches, we’ve still got lots going on.”
Part of the “Still Happening” campaign is driven by marketing manager Austin Weaver, who has been out and about, recording experiences from mountain biking and pizza making to rock climbing, and sharing it with the world on social media.
“We reviewed the figures for engagement on our Facebook posts for June and July and they are up more than 300 per cent over the same time last year,” said Tischik.
Tischik wants everyone to join in and spread the word with Travel Penticton’s trio of hashtags: #penticton, #stillhappening and #visitpenticton
“Those people that are experiencing the Okanagan, get it out there on social media that they’re having a great time,” said Tischik adding that he wants to make sure people are aware there is still lots of fun activities, like Peach Festival, which gets underway Aug. 9.
“That’s going to be a significant event. I think that is the fortunate thing in Penticton is that we have events almost every weekend and spill over into the midweeks. That is a great way to keep people motivated to come here,” said Tischik, also mentioning the Multisport World Championship Festival, which is estimated to bring nearly 10,000 athletes and supporters to Penticton.