EDITORIAL: Penticton tourism back on track

It looks like the long roller coaster ride for tourism in Penticton is finally nearing an end.

It looks like the long roller coaster ride for tourism in Penticton is finally nearing an end.

It may not be the first time that it looked like someone was coming forward with a solution to bring all the elements of tourism back together, but this time, it looks like all the pieces are falling into place.

Since 2011, when the contract with the chamber of commerce wasn’t renewed, tourism marketing for Penticton has been a mess of lawsuits, infighting and backroom negotiations. At the best of times, it could be described as an armed truce, with at least two organizations operating independently on their own visions of marketing Penticton to the world.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been good tourism marketing accomplished over the last five years.  There has, and it’s been done by both the Penticton Hospitality Association and Tourism Penticton, as shown by the returns from the additional hotel room tax, which have continued to trend upwards.

The question, though, is how much more effective marketing campaigns could have been if there had only been one organization, with a larger budget, spreading a cohesive message about what Penticton has to offer as the gateway to the South Okanagan.

After months of work and negotiation, that’s about to end. The newly formed Travel Penticton, developed through negotiations between Tourism Penticton and the PHA, is looking to hire its first executive director. Next month, both organizations will take the final step, voting to dissolve and pass their authority on to the new unified group.

So kudos to the teams from both the PHA and Tourism Penticton, who have worked hard over the last year to build a new structure to unify tourism marketing. It’s been a long ride, but let’s hope we have a long run on a straight section of track.