Stay on top of the latest news from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). This page displays the most recent TOTA press release, and the sidebar at left provides an archive of recent TOTA press releases. News media seeking interviews with TOTA officials or requiring assistance getting background information about TOTA or issues relating to the tourism industry in the Thompson Okanagan region, can contact Devon Brooks, TOTA Communications, Email Here.
FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) signed a landmark information-sharing agreement Nov. 4 with a similar organization based in Australia, in what is being called the first international region-to-region tourism partnership ever formed.
TOTA Board Chair Michael J. Ballingall and President & CEO Glenn Mandziuk signed the memorandum of understanding with Southern Queensland Country Tourism (SQCT) CEO Mary-Clare Power at TOTA's annual general meeting, held at Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon.
In the photo: From left, TOTA Board Chair Michael J. Ballingall, TOTA President & CEO Glenn Mandziuk, and Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO Mary-Clare Power sign an information-sharing agreement at the TOTA AGM. (TOTA photo)
The three officials noted the similarities of the Thompson Okanagan and Southern Queensland regions – they're both inland, are roughly the same size, are close to major metropolitan centres (Vancouver and Brisbane), and have wine tourism, regional culinary flavours, and natural attractions. And TOTA and SQCT play similar roles in the management, development and promotion of their tourism destinations.
Mandziuk said the MOU is an exciting commitment by the two organizations to exchange information about best practices in tourism development and promotion, and to look for opportunities to work together for the benefit of the tourism industry in both regions. The agreement doesn't have a fixed duration, but will be reviewed every two years. While not legally binding either party to any financial or other obligations, the MOU states that TOTA and SQCT will:
• Exchange industry best practices on the development of sustainable, competitive destinations.
• Discuss destination management, product/visitor experience development, and promotion.
• Identify labour exchange opportunities that would expand awareness of global tourism.
• Foster discussion and research between each region's educational institutions.
Mandziuk added that Thompson Rivers University and Okanagan College are already exploring initiatives with counterparts in Southern Queensland. Power said she thinks TOTA is doing excellent work on a number of fronts in regional tourism, and she looks forward to the benefits that TOTA and SQCT will both gain through this new partnership.
In other developments at the TOTA AGM:
• Mandziuk announced TOTA will partner with Okanagan Visitor Publications (OVP) to produce the 2014 Thompson Okanagan Travel Experiences Guide. The agreement will see improvements to the Guide, including a hardcover edition placed in the 20,000 hotel rooms in the region and the development of different versions for traveller audiences outside and inside the region. Cynthia Denyar, of OVP, said the revamped Guide will be more user-friendly, and new strategies will be used to offer tourism operators in the region more efficient and effective ways to advertise their destinations to potential visitors. Advertising opportunities are available until the end of 2013 and the Guide will be published next spring.
• Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster brought greetings from the provincial government, noted that international visits to B.C. were up eight per cent this summer, and said the Thompson Okanagan region "is one of the jewels of tourism in the world" and is "a pivotal piece" in B.C.'s tourism offering.
• Gordon Fitzpatrick, owner of CedarCreek Estate Winery and a Board member of the province's new Destination BC tourism development and marketing Crown corporation, noted that three industry representatives from the Thompson Okanagan have been named to Destination BC's important Tourism Marketing Committee – Glenn Mandziuk (TOTA); Ingrid Jarrett (Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos); and Saeedeh Salem (Enotecca Wineries).
• TOTA Board Chair Michael J. Ballingall reported to the AGM that the organization had a tremendously successful 2013. During the year it began implementing the exciting new 10-year Regional Tourism Strategy, it incorporated leading-edge 'Explorer Quotient' research-based marketing techniques in its promotion of tourism, it helped launch a bold new Similkameen Valley tourism brand, it launched the Okanagan Bucket List travel promotion sponsored by four major destinations in the region, and it helped to attract major new airline access to the region.
TOTA also announced the results of recent online voting to elect stakeholders to seven of the positions on its Board of Directors. Elected to two-year terms on the Board were: Michael J. Ballingall, Senior Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at Big White Ski Resort; Ingrid Jarrett, General Manager of Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos; Sally Pierce, Assistant General Manager of the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton; Gene Covert, co-owner of Covert Farms and Covert Farms Family Estate Winery; Russell Critchlow, owner of River Safari in Blue River; Brad Pelletier, Vice-President of Okanagan Region for Wesbild Holdings, parent company of Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon; and Kelly Watt, General Manager of Sandman Hotel & Suites in Kelowna. They join continuing Board members: Chris Bower, Director of Operations at NK'MIP Resort Association in Osoyoos; Christine Latimer, General Manager of the Best Western Valemount Inn & Suites; Jim Fraser, President of Fraser James Company in Kelowna; Robyn Cyr, Manager of Shuswap Tourism in Salmon Arm; George Hanson, owner of Seven Stones Winery in Cawston; Hans-Peter Mayr, CEO of Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon; and Bryan Pilbeam, Vice-President & General Manager of Hotel 540 in Kamloops.
TOTA's 14-member Board of Directors for 2013-14 consists of, from left: BACK ROW: Chris Bower, Brad Pelletier, Gene Covert, Russell Critchlow, Jim Fraser, Hans-Peter Mayr, George Hanson (Vice-Chair), and Bryan Pilbeam. FRONT ROW: Robyn Cyr, Kelly Watt, Ingrid Jarrett, Michael J. Ballingall (Chair), Sally Pierce (Secretary), and Christine Latimer (Treasurer). (photo by Don Weixl/TOTA)
The Board's 2013-14 executive will be – Chair: Michael J. Ballingall; Vice-Chair: George Hanson; Treasurer: Christine Latimer; Secretary: Sally Pierce.
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For information contact:
Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA President & CEO
Office: 250-860-5999 ext 216 Email: email@example.com
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