EDITORIAL: Tourism hope

It’s long past time for the drama that is Penticton tourism to come to an end.

The City of Penticton is pinning a lot of hope on the possibility of some sort of merger between the Penticton Hospitality Association and Tourism Penticton.

It’s something we should all be hoping for. Tourism marketing for the city has been divided ,and at times ineffectual, since late 2011, when the city council of the day stripped the tourism contract from the Chamber of Commerce and awarded it to the newly formed Penticton Business Development Group.

That group only lasted a few months before it folded, and ever since, tourism marketing in the city, especially when it comes to the $450,000 generated annually by the two per cent additional hotel room tax, has been on a roller coaster ride, including one past and two current civil suits in B.C. Supreme Court.

The PHA ended up controlling the hotel room tax funds, while Tourism Penticton struggled on with the $354,000 awarded to them annually by the city.

Along the way, there have been a number of attempts to bring the PHA and Tourism Penticton together, but so far, all have failed.

Penticton needs the most effective tourism marketing it can get, so hopefully this latest attempt to align the two groups will be successful.

Tourism accounts for about 15 per cent of Penticton’s economy. That’s a large chunk of the city’s activity, but it is a deceptive number, both in terms of jobs, and future growth of the city.

More jobs are created by tourism than just those at tourism-related businesses — the annual influx of tourists generates employment in the service and retail sectors.

Planners also rely on tourism marketing and tourists visiting the city to encourage growth. What better way to convince someone that Penticton is the place to set up their business, or to retire, than by having them enjoy the benefits of the Okanagan lifestyle as a visitor?

It’s long past time for the drama that is Penticton tourism to come to an end.