By all accounts, summer 2019 will be just as busy as years previous in Penticton, with accomodations already selling out and the city preparing to host multiple festival-level events.
According to Thom Tischik, executive director of Travel Penticton, the tourism service has been surveying the city’s visitors to get a better understanding of where people visiting Penticton are from. He said this helps the centre and the area’s business better understand how to cater to the tourism industry.
“Normally when people come into the visitors’ centre, we normally are simply required to ask generally where they are from. Now what we’re doing, in addition to that, is asking specifically where they’re from,” said Tischik. “So this gives us a much better idea of where our travellers are coming from.
“In the past, it would have been B.C., Alberta, and other parts of Canada and Europe in general. Now we’re asking specifics and getting more defined numbers and demographics. So far the traffic has been from Europe, which is interesting, and also from Washington state and Alberta.”
Tischik said because it’s only the end of June, Penticton is seeing mostly singles, couples and senior tourists since families are still finishing up school. He said when we hit the pique of the summer tourist season, which is usually mid-July, the city will see many more families visiting to take in the area and all it has to offer.
“Our dollar value is part of it but I think also Destination BC, as well as our communities and Destination Canada, has been doing a fair amount of work to profile Canada as a whole, but also British Columbia as a good destination to come to,” said Tischik. “They’re saying you could arrive in Vancouver and do a trip across the province. Ultimately, most visitors will head to Banff (Alberta) since that just seems to be their favourite. But, that being said, they do go across the province and are starting to branch away from Highway 1 and do a lot more travel through the Okanagan which is pleasant to see.”
Tischik said Travel Penticton and other tourism agencies are using the motto “come early and stay late” to showcase that the Okanagan generally has beautiful weather even in the spring and well into the fall. He said they are seeing more tourists take advantage of this fact in order to avoid the big crowds Penticton has been known to have in the summer months of July and August.
Travel Penticton has opened a new kiosk at the Penticton Regional Airport, which will help visitors get the most out of their stay when they arrive in Penticton. Tischik said the agency also has a tent at the Penticton Peach on Okanagan Lake and at every community market in the city’s downtown on Saturdays throughout the summer and fall.
“In terms of bookings, our weekends are pretty busy throughout the summer months so far. There’s a lot of events so we’re definitely filling up for all of those,” said Nathalie Snyder, assistant general manager with the Penticton Lakeside Resort. “Right now we’re focusing on weekday bookings, so Sunday to Thursday or Monday to Thursday. So we’re trying to do a few promotions to different corporate meetings and things like that.”
Snyder said for the upcoming July long weekend, the hotel is all but full. She explained that people tend to book a couple weeks in advance, so those with plans of having family stay in accomodations in the city over the summer should be booking as soon as they can, or at least four to five days out.
Snyder said it’s hard to tell how this year will compare to last year in terms of bookings, since the resort and other hotels in the area faced a lot of last-minute cancellations due to wildfires and the resulting smoky conditions.
“The majority of families that are coming are booking well in advance, but we also get a lot of last-minute bookings as well so it’s a combination of both,” said Snyder. “It’s on par with previous years at this point. Our weekends are filling up rapidly and mid-week we are still looking at rooms to sell. And we have a lot of weddings, and weddings that are off property but all of the guests are staying here.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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