Tourism Penticton puts focus on united approach

Tourism Penticton Society is moving to full operation now that they have received their official not for profit society designation

Though the groundwork was laid this spring, the Tourism Penticton Society is moving to full operation now that they have received their official not for profit society designation.

With their  official not for profit society designation just arrived, the Tourism Penticton Society is ramping up to full operation.

The groundwork for the society was laid in March, when Tourism Penticton CEO Jessie Campbell, working with the Penticton Hotel Association, set out a new model for managing tourism services, tying together municipal funding and the additional hotel tax to be managed by an 11-member board, which would oversee the Penticton and Wine Country Tourism Centre.

The board was to have included six representatives from the PHA, but in the late spring the group representing Penticton’s hotel and other accommodation owners signed a contract with the city for the right to manage the two per cent hotel tax that travellers pay when staying at properties in Penticton with more than four rooms.

The new Tourism Penticton Society is working to bring the Penticton Hospitality Association to the table to ensure marketing Penticton continues in a unified manner, with all tourism-related funds invested together. That board was to manage both the HRT funds — worth between $400,000 and $450,000 annually — as well as the city’s contribution, reported at the time to be $324,080.

“That is our hope, but at this point we do not have that two per cent tax,” said Diane Stirling, operator of the Loco Landing Adventure Park and acting chair of the society. “We are very much hoping that we can combine the funds into one pot to enable us more leverage in the marketplace. That just makes sense, and it is an industry best practice.”

In the interim, Campbell has outlined a strategy for re-focusing the mandate of the organization, including a stronger emphasis on direct sales. The new society’s plans include partnering with tourism operations to create packaging and promotional experiences that can be sold through the Wine Country Visitor Centre, via and other mediums.

“While we only have the city’s money, that is why we are being very proactive in turning this into our focus on generating sales and what we can do to ensure that we do have funds to do an amazing job of marketing our region, if we can’t have the funds that were previously available,” said Stirling.

But for now, Stirling said they are in the process of recruiting four new board members to join the six current members, representing a variety of tourism sectors including: Miranda Halladay, wine and agritourism; Sally Pierce, conventions, meetings and events; Laura Carleton, sport tourism; Lesley Gabriel, Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation; and Chuck Loewen, representing the City of Penticton.

“We have three seats open for accommodators, which is very important to have that representation at our board,” said Stirling. “We have a spot open for the retail and restaurant sector and we have an additional spot open for wine and agritourism, which would make two in total on our board.”

Stakeholders from these sectors interested in joining the board were asked to send an expression of interest by Oct. 16 via email, with a follow-up of a one-page letter outlining their current roles in the tourism sector.