Thompson Okanagan tourism stakeholders gathered at Sparking Hills for the launch of the tourism strategy.
The Thompson Okanagan is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. In 2010 tourism generated over $1.7 billion to the regional economy. We are attracting 3.5 million visitors per year, and tourism employs approximately 15,000 people in our region.
As impressive as these statistics are, there is a significant underlying concern with the seasonality of the industry, with parts of the region experiencing dramatic peaks in the summer months. Imagine creating an environment that inspires travellers to visit the region every month of the year. The increased economic impact would be dramatic.
The Thompson Okanagan Regional Tourism Strategy is a ten-year ‘road-map’ that will guide us in developing a successful year-round destination and an industry that:
As the organization that facilitated the planning process, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) has worked with government partners and industry stakeholders throughout the region to determine and present on behalf of everyone involved, this landmark tourism document.
Embracing Our Potential is an industry-led strategy that demonstrates how we can create exceptional visitor experiences that will expand our region’s tourism success beyond the peak season. A key underlying objective to this strategy is to encourage partnerships within the industry, and to work in an integrated way to embrace opportunities for growth in a manner that benefits all partners and increases the year-round strength of the Thompson Okanagan as a destination.
I am pleased to put forward this new regional tourism strategy for the Thompson Okanagan. Working together we can build a stronger tourism industry, we can achieve a new vision for our region, and we can create exceptional and world-class experiences for our visitors.
Glenn W. Mandziuk, BA, MEDes, MCIP
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association
As part of the consultation process during the Strategy draft phase, over 30 presentations were made throughout region. Following these presentations and feedback, TOTA received letters of endorsement confirming that ALL locally-based leading agencies involved in the advancement of tourism in the Thompson Okanagan Region (representing nearly 90 communities and hamlets and the tourism products of 28 First Nation Bands) support the vision and approach of the Regional Strategy. This is exciting progress, and positions the region well for moving forward in the growth and development of tourism.
Tourism has become a primary economic driver throughout the Thompson Okanagan Region. In 2010 the industry generated over $1.7 billion for the Regional economy, and growth in room revenue over the past ten years has outpaced the provincial average.
Building on this success and making sure that tourism in the Region can continue to thrive in increasingly competitive times is a challenge. Looking ahead, it is important that the industry creates a strategic framework that will guide its ongoing development and ensure that the benefits are felt throughout the Thompson Okanagan. Identifying a common vision and ways in which businesses and communities can work together on strategic regional objectives will act as a catalyst and will strengthen the Region overall and the destination experiences within the Region.
With TOTA’s regional mandate, Industry Services is facilitating the planning process that will result in a 10-year Regional Tourism Strategy. The outcome will be an industry strategy that is based on input from operators, communities and a wide range of tourism related organizations. Dr. Roger Carter from TEAM Tourism in the UK is assisting TOTA with the project.
The Planning Process
The process has involved the following steps to date:
The following outline presents the key elements of the draft Strategy. This is now being refined in preparation for a further stage of consultation. It is anticipated that the Strategy will be released in the spring.
PURPOSE: To provide a framework for stakeholders to work together toward a shared vision and common goals.
The Thompson Okanagan will be a highly successful all-year-round destination, with a strong and attractive image that is clearly differentiated from its competitors. The region will be well known for the authenticity of its tourism offers and the cultural and environmental richness and diversity of the areas within it. The industry will be recognized for its commitment to work together to strengthen tourism for the benefit of all.
Achieve the target of 3% growth in revenue per year throughout the Region and in each sub-region/Regional District.
British Columbia / Lower Mainland
(Emerging & secondary markets – China, Korea, India, Brazil)
40% 18-34, over ? have young children, FT/students, higher than av. income, av. education
Extrovert, driven, open-minded, fun-loving, spontaneous, adventurous
Luxury, checklist samplers, indulgent, fun/exciting travel with some learning, bragging experiences, escapism, appreciation of nature
Snowmobiling, skiing/snowboarding, shopping – gourmet retail, casinos, sun bathing, water-based activities, hang gliding, kayaking, dining at restaurants offering local ingredients, visiting national/provincial parks, attending festivals. Accommodation – health/resort spa, waterfront resort – preference for status, brands, novelty & creativity
53% 55+, higher than av. retired, av. income, higher than av. education
Eco & well-being conscious, ethical, independent, more reserved, open-minded, care little about brands
Cultural immersion, historical travel, away from crowds, unstructured travel
Multi-day touring in a car, dining at restaurants offering local ingredients, educational tours, historic sites, national/provincial parks, natural wonders, interpretive centres, meeting locals, visiting small towns. Prefer modest accommodation – mountain resort, waterfront resort
All ages, mostly FT, av. income, higher than av. education
Highly motivated, risk-takers, spontaneous, creative, socially responsible, easy-going, not highly materialistic
Off the beaten track, local connections, unstructured travel, historical travel
Interacting with locals, historic sites, multicultural experiences, national/ provincial parks, interpretive centres, natural wonders, hands on learning, small towns, dining at restaurants offering local ingredients, farmers’ markets, local crafts. Prefer modest accommodation - wilderness lodge, farm stays, B&B
Working with small task forces on strategies related to events, Aboriginal cultural tourism, trails, interpretation, visitor services & IT.
Creating a framework for the development of sub-regional Tourism Development Plans in partnership with Tourism BC.
Identifying and supporting flagship projects that will highlight the distinctiveness of the Region and create new business.
Working together to deliver regional supporting programs:
... to reduce seasonality
Committing to long-term sustainability through a Sustainable Tourism Charter
“This work will go a long way in helping the Canadian Tourism Commission develop and market unique destinations and experiences and will contribute to Canada’s international tourism competitiveness.”
– Greg Klassen, Senior Vice- President, Canadian Tourism Commission