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Regional tourism strategy takes flight
The Thomson-Okanagan Tourism Association and four of the largest local tourist operations – Big White Ski Resort, Mission Hill Winery, Sparkling Hill Resort and Predator Ridge Resort – want travellers from around the world to put this area on their bucket lists.
And to do so, they have teamed up with Kelowna International Airport to kick off a new campaign that TOTA executive director Glenn Mandziuk describes as “promoting the iconic.”
The new program, an offshoot of TOTA's strategy to get regional tourism players working together rather than in isolation, will start by featuring exclusive packages involving all four business that will only be available on a new website called OkanaganBucketList.com.
The packages will include a ski performance camp featuring top ski pro and coach Josh Foster at Big White, a golf package for two at Predator Ridge, a specialty culinary workshop for two at Mission Hill Winery and a special spa retreat at Sparkling Hill.
Mandziuk said the Bucket List program is the start of what he hopes will be more collaborative marketing projects by more tourism operators in the region in future.
“The Okanagan region has a number of truly outstanding experiences that can set this area apart and this Bucket List program goes to the core of the co-operative nature of the regional strategy,” said Mandziuk. “YLW provides the perfect launching point for a program that will utilize a variety of promotional tactics to raise awareness in the global marketplace about what the Okanagan has to offer as a premier year-round tourism destination.”
With the airport as a backdrop, the program was officially kicked off Friday morning.
“The Okanagan Bucket List is a simple but powerful marketing franchise demonstrating that we are stronger together than in isolation,” said Brad Pelletier, vice-president of Predator Ridge. “The more we as a region partner come together to influence and promote our product and experiences, the greater the experience the tourist will have in the Okanagan.”
The program will feature extensive advertising at the airport, making it hard to miss for anyone arriving.
In addition to large signs touting the website address on the outside of all arrival gates and YLW's airplane loading bridges, there will also be signs promoting the program lining the inside of the loading bridges to be seen as passengers deplane.
Airport director Sam Samaddar said the move is not only an economic generator for the region, it is also a money maker for YLW as it will generate what he described as a significant amount of revenue for the airport through a five-year advertising contract.
While Samaddar refused to say how much money the airport is making from the advertising deal, he said 70 per cent of the 1.45 million passengers who use the airport are tourists.
“This is building the tourism opportunity for the region,” he said.
Long known as a hot spot for beaches and peaches as well as summer sunshine, the Okanagan wants the world to know there is plenty more to do here.
From Big White, with its abundance of powder snow each winter, to a recent rating by Travel + Leisure magazine of the restaurant at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery as one of the top-five winery restaurants in the world, as well as world-class golf, agri-tourism, and holistic spa and wellness resorts, the Okanagan is trying to position itself as a destination of choice in a world where competition for travellers' dollars is fierce.
“When someone is attracted to one of these Okanagan Bucket List iconic experiences, it means greater success for all tourism businesses in the area,” said Mandziuk. “I want to congratulate the founding partners in this initiative for supporting this strategy. This program will be adding more product offerings from businesses across the region in the months to come. TOTA’s committed to encouraging our tourism partners who are willing to create experiences that deliver. If you can dream it, we can deliver it.”