After two years of revitalization, we are delighted to report that Thompson Okanagan Tourism has achieved a high level of operational excellence. We are now energized to work together with stakeholders more effectively than ever before to move our industry forward.
The milestones in TOTA's renewal have been many: a new leadership role for the Board; a new vision and mission; a new brand; new staffing; new industry development and community development programs; a new strategic focus for our travel marketing; highly successful regional industry Summits; and the honour of being awarded accreditation from the prestigious Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).
We have worked hard to become a champion of excellence and we are achieving it. We are not resting on our laurels. We're collaborating with stakeholders to implement an ambitious new Regional Tourism Strategy entitled Embracing Our Potential, to infuse all of our planning and marketing with the most effective messaging possible using the Canadian Tourism Commission's leading-edge 'Explorer Quotient®' research, and to turn our website into a comprehensive Online Resource Centre for stakeholders.
All this now positions us to work closely with tourism stakeholders to develop and market our destinations globally. It is critical that we succeed, since tourism is key to the Thompson Okanagan's economy, generating more than $1.7 billion in economic activity.
We can be successful if we partner effectively with stakeholders to tell compelling stories and create memorable experiences that visitors from across Canada and around the world can experience in our unique region. In 2011 we made an extra effort to reach a new level of engagement with stakeholders, visiting people and product in every corner of the Region – and we will continue this close collaboration.
With our diverse landscapes, golf, skiing, wineries, culinary excellence, agri-tourism, trails, First Nations cultures, festivals, and so many other attractions, we are excited to move forward, telling our stories and growing our tourism industry.
The Thompson Okanagan:
Are dynamic and experienced tourism professionals who represent many key sectors and areas of the Thompson Okanagan. They volunteer to help TOTA and stakeholders improve and grow the region's tourism industry.
To sustain the Thompson Okanagan Region as a competitive destination by setting strategic direction for the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and working as a policy board to ensure the
long-term viability of the Association.
To position Thompson Okanagan as a 'top-of-mind' destination offering exceptional year-round experiences for all travellers in our target markets.
To support the ongoing growth and sustainability of our tourism industry by establishing Thompson Okanagan Tourism as a champion of excellence and innovation in destination marketing, management and industry development.
BC, Alberta, Washington, Ontario and long-haul international in UK, Germany, Australia and Netherlands. Secondary markets include California, Florida, North-Eastern USA, Asia Pacific and emerging South & Central America.
Touring (with particular focus on wine, culinary, health & wellness, Aboriginal culture & regional history) AND golf, ski, outdoor adventure and festivals & events.
TOTA's strategic focus is to create optimum relevance for our stakeholders through:
"The Thompson Okanagan Region really has it all. We've got beautiful lakes, we've got fantastic ski areas, farms, wineries, bicycle trails ... you name it. We have something for every demographic."
– Senator Nancy Greene Raine, Director of Skiing, Sun Peaks Resort
Tourism is a major part of the economy of the Thompson Okanagan – and its importance to all of us is growing.
The economic impact in terms of sales revenue, jobs, local wages, and even the resulting federal and provincial government revenues to support the infrastructure, social programs and quality of life in our cities and towns, is immense.
Tourism attracts 3.5 million visitors to the Thompson Okanagan each year, generating more than $1.7 billion in economic activity. It directly employs 15,000 people – more than mining, forestry or agriculture.
There are strong indications that tourism in our Region is growing at a faster rate than in other parts of B.C. For instance, while hotel revenue over the past 10 years rose by 33 per cent across B.C., in the Thompson Okanagan Region it rose by 55 per cent.
TOTA is working with stakeholders to improve and increase our industry development, community development, and marketing programs to help ensure that visitors are aware of our diverse destinations and visit us, to help ensure the future economic health of our Region and our communities.
"Today's guest is looking for more than just an overnight stay and a place to sleep ... They're looking for an experience."
– Prestige Hotels & Resorts Pres. Terry Schneider
In 2011 TOTA achieved a number of significant accomplishments in the areas of Industry Development, Community Development and Market Development on behalf of the region's tourism industry.
"As we work with our stakeholders to launch a new tourism strategy in spring 2012, we recognize that our competitors aren't across the street or in the next town. We are competing with destinations in Eastern Canada, in the U.S., in Europe, Australia, Asia and elsewhere for the domestic and international traveller."
– Ingrid Jarrett, TOTA Board Chair
"This Region has the ability to define the culinary in Western Canada; it can be the Tuscany of North America."
– Quails' Gate Estate Winery proprietor Tony Stewart
TOTA wants to ensure that the region's tourism industry is secure in the future – successfully developing its product, marketing its destinations, and attracting visitors despite the increasing global competition.
We have spent most of 2011 consulting with stakeholders to identify a common vision and create a new Regional Tourism Strategy, entitled Embracing Our Potential. This planning involved extensive research and a series of grassroots input sessions across the Region. National, provincial, regional and local partners and industry representatives have been engaged throughout. In November 2011 an overview of the draft 10-year Regional Strategy was presented at the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Summit. After more refinement, the Strategy will be released in spring 2012.
The Strategy aims to increase tourism revenues throughout the Region by 3% each year for the next decade. One key will be to help stakeholders overcome the current pronounced seasonality of business and attract visitors at other than the peak seasons. The research and consultations both noted the need to promote our iconic experiences more effectively.
The Strategy notes the need to improve our promotion of the Region's iconic experiences, to emphasize unique local flavours such as wineries, regional cuisine and organic produce, to tell our stories more effectively, and to ensure that we deliver authentic experiences and opportunities for visitors to discover new things and learn new skills. All this will set the Thompson Okanagan apart as a destination that delivers unique visitor experiences that travellers will want to share with others.
TOTA is committed to the Regional Tourism Strategy's success. It will work closely with communities, tourism stakeholders, local destination marketing organizations, educational institutions, Tourism BC, Aboriginal Tourism BC, go2, and the Canadian Tourism Commission to implement the Strategy for the benefit of all.
"This is a truly amazing Region – we have world-class wine, phenomenal food, gorgeous views ... We need to work together to create a complete package for our customers, the tourists, so that they choose us over Napa Valley, over Bordeaux, over Oregon. We really are at a world-class level, and the more we work together, the more we can get there."
– Cameron Smith, co-owner, Joy Road Catering
TOTA has embraced an exciting, powerful new approach to the marketing of Thompson Okanagan tourism destinations, and it is confident the initiative will help to attract growing numbers of visitors in the not-too-distant future.
In 2011 TOTA became one of only five organizations in Canada and the first in B.C. to subscribe to the Canadian Tourism Commission's (CTC's) full Explorer Quotient® program, known as 'EQ'.
EQ is the result of years of work by CTC and Environics Research which has focused on going beyond simple demographics to discover the underlying social values and travel motivations of potential travellers from Canada's 10 key tourism markets – the U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, China, and the domestic market.
This extensive research found that there are nine distinct "traveller types", and four of them – Free Spirits, Authentic Experiencers, Cultural Explorers, and Rejuvenators – are drawn to various aspects of the destinations and travel experiences offered in the Thompson Okanagan. Each traveller type is attracted to different experiences in our Region depending on their values – such as preferring structured or unstructured travel, or preferring luxury settings or cultural experiences.
TOTA is already using EQ's valuable in-depth insights in two of its latest projects – the 2012 Thompson Okanagan Travel Experiences Guide and the new Regional Tourism Strategy.
As it becomes increasingly familiar with using EQ's wealth of information, TOTA plans to roll out a series of workshops and other initiatives that will help local businesses with their tourism product development and marketing.
This powerful world-class marketing tool will be an invaluable resource for TOTA and stakeholders and we work together to grow our world-class tourism industry.
"We are now using the latest research on people's travel motivations and we're collaborating more and more in the Thompson Okanagan to find ways to tell our stories and show people the outstanding and unique experiences they can have in our region."
– Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA CEO
TOTA's highly qualified staff deliver a wide range of programs and services to support the development and marketing of Thompson Okanagan tourism product and destinations. Key TOTA functions and contacts are:
Increases awareness of the Region and inbound travel from the international and domestic/North American markets. This includes:
Increases the capacity and competitiveness of local communities by facilitating delivery of TOTA and Tourism BC support programs.
Increases industry capacity and the visitor appeal of the overall Regional destination through delivery of TOTA's Industry Development programs.
Research & Monitoring
Increases our focus on the travel consumer and builds the Region's appreciation of the value of tourism, through TOTA's Research & Monitoring programs.
TO CONTACT TOTA BY TELEPHONE
Marketing – South Region ext. 215
Marketing – North Region ext. 204
Community Development ext. 214
Industry Development ext. 209
Research & Monitoring ext. 208
THOMPSON OKANAGAN TOURISM ASSOCIATION
2280-D Leckie Road
Kelowna, BC V1X 6G6
TOTA is accredited by the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program of the Destination Marketing Association International, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Web version of our annual guide for visitors to the region.
Marketing and information for the Travel Trade industry
Market site for a collection of iconic Okanagan experiences