Tourism funding helps spread the word on the South Okanagan

Communities throughout the South Okanagan and Similkameen land funds from Community Tourism Opportunities

Several South Okanagan communities are going to be adding some new technology to their programs, thanks to funding from the Community Tourism Opportunities program.

“With vibrant and beautiful communities, top-calibre golf courses and the best wine tourism destinations in Canada, the southern Okanagan is a wonderful destination. This funding will help get the message out, and (bring) more tourists to Penticton, Naramata, and Peachland,” said Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff.

Tourism associations from Summerland through to Osoyoos and the Similkameen are on the list. Penticton, Summerland, Naramata, Osoyoos and Oliver are receiving $9,200 each, while Okanagan Falls is receiving $4,000 and the Similkameen Valley tourism association is getting $23,000 for branding. In this area, the provincially funded program is being administered by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. The funding will be used for a variety of tourism enhancements in each community, though most include setting some aside for developing or expanding their image banks.

In Penticton, the $9,200 will be split among a related group of endeavours aimed at bringing the Penticton and Wine Country experience closer to potential consumers, with $3,000 each devoted to enhancing both the organization’s image bank and website. Another $1,000 will be directed to Internet marketing and the final $2,200 is going to developing a “digital kiosk.”

“The main concept, if I can bundle it up into one word, is storytelling, telling the story that is going to be the hook for someone to say, I absolutely need to experience that for myself this year,” said Jessie Campbell, of Penticton and Wine Country Tourism.

She describes the digital kiosk as a mobile visitor centre, helping the tourism group to establish a presence at events like conventions where registration is taking place. That, Campbell said, will “ensure that our visitors and delegates are aware of other reasons to stay a day longer and activities to do while they are in the area.”

The other items on the list, Campbell continued, add up to a push to show prospective travellers what they are missing in Penticton.

“The approach for Penticton and Wine Country is creating a story for our visitors,” said Campbell. “That will be done by both enhancing the image bank with high-resolution images to engage visitors, but also enhancing the video library with short vignettes of experiences awaiting visitors to the area.”

A similar approach is being taken by Summerland, where $2,000 has been earmarked for a “video story of locals” and another $2,000 for website enhancements.

Campbell said it is all about enhancing the Penticton and Wine Country brand.

For us, our positioning line for some time has been ‘Time to Breathe.’ We have stuck true to our brand for years, and as a result we are seeing Penticton being positioned at the heart of wine country in the South Okanagan,” said Campbell. “Our visitors are telling us, and have been telling us, that we are in the top 10 places to visit for 2012. We are going to stick to that strategy to ensure that Penticton stays on the bucket list of travellers around the world.”

This is the fifth year the CTO program has been in operation, with over $1 million in funding from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation being distributed by the province’s six regional destination marketing associations. Successful applicants to the program must have matching funds for their projects and they receive their funding after successful completion of the projects.