TOTA's Market Development staff were extremely busy this fall hosting a number of familiarization tours for international travel trade representatives, in addition to the many other FAMs they hosted for travel media journalists.
Staff members Ellen Walker-Matthews, Katherine Voigt, Howard Grieve and Gary Aldus each pitched in, helping to host the FAMs together or individually – showing off the wonders and amenities of numerous tourism properties throughout the region.
The recent round of travel trade FAMs included the following:
• Australia Super-FAM – September 20-24
A collaborative effort between Tourism BC, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and Air Canada saw a Super-FAM of 60 travel and wholesale agents visit the province. The group divided up into teams of 10 to visit various regions. TOTA along with suppliers and city DMOs co-ordinated the team to our region, visiting several stakeholders stretching from the North Okanagan through to Sun Peaks and Kamloops. Due in part to the demise of a major tradeshow in Australia, this FAM was developed to bring some of the best B.C. product sellers here.
In the photo at right - Gay Aldus from TOTA, Colin Brost from Tourism Sun Peaks, and Tourism BC contractor Rick Graham join in with FAM participants in Sun Peaks village.
• Rocky Mountaineer/India – September 18
TOTA and Tourism Kamloops hosted eight tour operators from India who are specialists for Rocky Mountaineer Vacations. Currently, Canada receives 130,000 Indian visitors in a year, and has experienced double-digit growth over the past year. The operators, along with Rocky Mountaineer's in-market rep, were brought to western Canada to experience all the products in the RMV line and, of course, the Rockies, Kamloops and Vancouver.
• CTC German Specialists – October 4-8
A group of 10 travel agents and tour operator sales staff who are enrolled in the Canadian Tourism Commission's Specialist Program visited the Similkameen, Okanagan and Nicola Valleys for five days. The group travelled a little differently as they drove from Vancouver in RVs. Western Canadian RV holidays are very popular for European travellers, so the group got firsthand knowledge of the products and places they sell!
In the photo at right – FAM participants enjoy their visit to Summerhill Pyramid Winery.
• Audley Travel – September 19-21
Audley Travel, from the U.K., has been a long-time seller of B.C. travel products including many to the region – including a favourite part: the North Thompson. Audley has won several newspaper awards in Britain as 'Best Small Tour Operator'. A representative toured existing and new products around Clearwater.
• CTC Mexico tour operators – October 6-8
Despite the drop in the number of Mexican visitors to Canada due to visa requirements, B.C. still remains a destination Mexicans want to travel to. Thousands continue to vacation in the province, and with this in mind, the CTC in partnership with Tourism BC brought eight key tour operators to the province to increase their awareness and interest in our destination, as well as to strengthen relationships with decision-makers – including TOTA. The group spent only two days in region, but the visit was busy – with visits to suppliers in Kelowna and Vernon followed by a final night at Sparkling Hill Resort.
In the photo at right – Mexico FAM participants visit Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm with owner Andrea McFadden.