Tourism Penticton and the Penticton Hospitality Association are getting ready to merge.

Tourism Penticton and the Penticton Hospitality Association are getting ready to merge.

Penticton tourism organizations prepping for merge

Travel Penticton has begun advertising for its first executive director.

Travel Penticton has begun advertising for its first executive director, a good sign the process of creating a unified tourism marketing group for Penticton has succeeded.

Months of talks and negotiations, which started early this year will come to a head on Oct. 14, when the Penticton Hospitality Association and Tourism Penticton are holding extraordinary general meetings, asking their memberships if they want to dissolve their societies in favour of the new, unified group, according to Jessica Dolan, chair of Tourism Penticton.

It’s all on the same day and about half an hour apart, so people who are members of both groups like Dolan, who is also general manager of the Ramada Penticton, can vote for both.

The hoped-for answer on both sides, Dolan said, is that both organizations will vote to dissolve.

“That will take some time, but then we will be able to push forward to create the new Travel Penticton Society, which is the direction we got at our annual general meetings in March,” said Dolan.

(read more: Work starting on single tourism group for Penticton)

Dolan said it’s important to get all the tourism stakeholders and groups under the same umbrella and working in the same direction, supporting a single brand.

“It is going to provide a lot more opportunity for all the stakeholders to get involved, rather than trying to figure out what organization you should be working with,” said Dolan.

Kelly Hopkins, executive director of Tourism Penticton was contracted August, 2015 to see the organization through to the merger.

“Here we are. We have some good, solid innovative work done by the Tourism Penticton team this year,” said Hopkins, adding that there has been good growth in a number of tourism sectors, including  cycling, craft breweries and distilleries.

Hopkins said she enjoyed her time with Tourism Penticton, but she doesn’t plan to apply for the position with Travel Penticton.

“To be a part of that this year was a highlight for me,” said Hopkins.  “I really think Travel Penticton is set up for success and the new organization is going to be really good for our community.

“I just see myself going in a different direction.”

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the city is pleased to see the Tourism Penticton and the PHA coming together, a unification city hall pushed for, envisioning benefits beyond tourism’s immediate role as an economic generator.

“I don’t think we appreciate the opportunity that tourism provides,” said Jakubeit. “It is our first chance to showcase Penticton,” said Jakubeit, explaining that means showing the city not just as a vacation destination, but a place to invest, move your family or start a business.

“Our growth has been quite stagnant. According to B.C. Stats, we decreased in population last year, but typically it is around one per cent and the cost of inflation is over one per cent,” said Jakubeit. “We are not even helping to generate enough revenues or people coming in to match living expense increases.”

Jakubeit said leveraging tourism and showing what a great place Penticton is and the amenities available is a major factor in the city’s growth strategy.

Dolan said the first board for Travel Penticton is made up of appointees from current PHA and Tourism Penticton members. The first board elections will come in the spring, when the new society holds its first AGM.

“It is just a working group at the moment,” said Dolan, explaining that the appointed board has yet to elect its chair and other executive. She added the final makeup of the board hasn’t been finalized, but expects the majority of the seats will be designated for accommodators, with the remainder divided up among other tourism stakeholder groups.

The executive director will report to the board and be tasked with increasing the society’s profile, implementing new programs and increasing revenue from successful programs.

One of the society’s first tasks will be to get the support and paperwork together to renew the Municipal and Regional District Tax. The current agreement expires in mid 2017, she said, and the paperwork has to be submitted to the Province of B.C. by Jan. 1, 2017.