It was a packed house at the TRUE Penticton tourism trade show on Tuesday.
Opened to the public for the first time, Think Remarkable Unique Experience attendees perused more than 40 booths at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
“This is a trade show we put on for employees in and around Penticton in the service industry and also for the general public to come in and check out what we’ve got going on in Penticton, especially if you want to entertain guests,” said Travel Penticton executive director Thom Tischik.
“To celebrate local vendors, give them exposure, to cater to people living in Penticton. In the first 30 minutes we’ve had 114 come in, so that is really good. More vendors than last year too.”
Among the booths were a group of vendors in high spirits.
“We’ve never participated before but they opened it to the public this year and there are a lot of people here so it is great,” said Don Kendall, Penticton Peach Festival president.
“Tourism is pretty important to Penticton, it truly is a tourist town.”
As owner of both The Peach and Loco Landing, Diana Stirling was pleased with Tuesday’s attendance.
“It is a time for us all in tourism to showcase what we are doing and have the community come out to see what the latest and greatest is,” said Stirling.
“This is the second year Travel Penticton has hosted it and the turnout is fantastic. I think it is an opportunity for people to see, in one place, all of the things that tourism stakeholders are doing in our amazing community.”
Okanagan Wibit and Penticton Boat Rentals Owner/Operator Ryan Gallagher said the trade show was going very well.
“A lot of public have come in this year versus before when it was more industry. A lot of people this year have Airbnbs or VBROs and want to have information for incoming guests,” said Gallagher.
“It is neat to meet people in different business that cater to tourists in the Okanagan,”
Heather Andrews with Tightrope Winery wanted to attend the show to support the community.
“We’ve had a great turnout of people,” said Andrews. “I was actually surprised to see floods of people around the booth, I am excited about that.
“With everything that is going, with the talk of high flooding scaring people away, we want to promote our town. Yes, some things are going on but we have a great community to support.”
While high lake levels and flooding have closed down beaches throughout the Okanagan, limited boat activity and caused concerns, these vendors are all remaining optimistic.
“We’re feeling confident,” said Stirling. “Sure we may not have a beach at Okanagan Lake, but we have a beautiful walkway along the lake and Skaha Beach is practically untouched. Penticton is very much open for business and we are looking forward to welcoming all of the tourists. The higher lake levels means it’s just a little different this year.”
A sentiment echoed by the Peach Fest president.
“Everybody knows about how high Okanagan Lake is, but at the other end of town Skaha Beach is beautiful. Lots of sad, lake isn’t too high. There is lots more to do than just the beach here, but if you want to go to the beach, Skaha is properly the best one in the Okanagan right now,” added Kendall.
“Peach Fest is the largest free festival in Canada now and with the lineup this year…all the hotels rooms are already sold out for Peach Fest so, we are not concerned at all.”
In contrast Penticton Boat Rentals was forced to shut down completely to respect the no wake rule on Okanagan Lake, and yet they also remain in good spirits.
“It is definitely affecting our bottom line, but I think we will have enough summer to recover,” said Gallagher, who added the Wibit portion of the business is still set to go ahead in early July.
“At this point we are just hoping the water starts to recede. There are much bigger worries than whether or not we are going to be opening on time or not. We are in the Okanagan, everything good happens in the Okanagan.”
“This is a great place to come, we are open for business,” added Andrews.