A major 10-month project has been launched to create a regional strategy that will spark significant growth of the Thompson-Okanagan’s billion-dollar tourism industry.
Led by Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), the project will assess existing and new market research, convene area workshops and consult tourism and community leaders throughout the region, including the North Thompson Valley.
A draft 10-year tourism strategy and action plan will be presented to the third annual Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Summit in November and the final plan, along with practical toolkits for local tourism development, will be unveiled in February 2012.
“Tourism is a key economic engine in the Thompson-Okanagan and it is becoming more important every year,” said TOTA chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk.
“In 2010, the region’s hotels brought in $260 million. Combine that with the annual revenues from our golf, wine, skiing, culinary, outdoor-adventure and special-events sectors, and we can see how critical tourism is to communities in every part of our region.”
Mandziuk said more than 60,000 people are employed in core tourism jobs in the Thompson-Okanagan, not to mention many thousands more whose jobs are indirectly related to tourism.
Over the past two years TOTA has reorganized itself as a destination management organization, increasing its research, planning and marketing functions and taking an aggressive approach to developing the tourism industry, in partnership with communities and businesses.
The Thompson-Okanagan stretches from Valemount in the north to Osoyoos in the south and from Princeton and Cache Creek in the west to Sicamous and Grand Forks in the east.
“With this project, we are in a position to lead the way in tourism planning,” Mandziuk said.
TOTA will work closely with international tourism expert Roger Carter, Thompson Rivers University and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.
Five sub-region workshops have been and will be held over the next three weeks: North Thompson (May 25 in Clearwater); South Okanagan, Boundary Country and Similkameen (May 31 in Osoyoos); Central Okanagan (June 7 in Kelowna); Shuswap and North Okanagan (June 9 in Salmon Arm); and Kamloops, Gold Country and Nicola Valley (June 15 in Quilchena).
– from Kamloops This Week