Penticton hotel occupancy on track for good year

Challenge Penticton, Gran Fondo, Elvis, the Young Stars tournament and assorted wine festivals in spring, summer and fall.

Challenge Penticton, Gran Fondo, Elvis, the Young Stars tournament and assorted wine festivals in spring, summer and fall.

Those and many more events are changing the nature of tourism in Penticton and the South Okanagan, and keeping the tourists coming and staying through a larger portion of the year.

“2013 is off to a solid start year-over-year, comparing 2012 to 2013. This is supported  by some of the strongest growth in the country from an occupancy rate and room revenue perspective for both May and June,” said Jesse Campbell, CEO of Tourism Penticton.

“Tourism Penticton is feeling confident that when 2013 wraps, we’ll be up over 2012. “We are still going through some of those, but we are becoming a more recognized destination, that is not only better known, but is a destination of choice,” said Campbell.

“A lot of that comes back to the location of Penticton. It’s ideally situated for that Okanagan getaway, no matter what time of year.”

Building events takes time, according to Wayne Schmuck, owner of Okanagan Reservations, and a past and present member of several festival boards, including Fest-of-Ale and the Pentastic Hot Jazz Fest.

Schmuck expects to see the same from Challenge as it builds in the next few years, pointing out that the success of the Penticton Ironman didn’t come all at once.

“In a couple of years we will start to see some huge numbers, I am certain of that,” said Schmuck. “It will be a building process.”

Rob Appelman, president of the Penticton Hospitality Association, said he’s been kept busy at his own hotel this summer and not had much chance to exchange notes with other accommodators, but he did see May and June as busy.

“The first part of July is still a little slow, but the middle section, the end of July and the first part of August, we are doing very well,” said Appelman.