Tourism Vernon manager Michelle Jefferson, left, helps to host Hiroko Owada and Mayumi Tsukamoto, who visited the Okanagan this fall to prepare a new Japanese-language brochure for Tourism BC.
TOTA's Market Development staff were extremely busy this fall hosting a number of familiarization tours for domestic and international travel media representatives, helping to get the word out about the world-class destinations across the Thompson Okanagan.
Staff members Ellen Walker-Matthews, Katherine Voigt, Howard Grieve and Gary Aldus each pitched in, helping to host the various media FAMs – showing off numerous participating tourism properties throughout the region.
The recent round of media FAMs included the following:
• Georgia Straight – September 15-18
TOTA provided support for a FAM to South Okanagan tourism stakeholders for the Food & Travel Editor from the Georgia Straight newspaper to attend a culinary tour. Carolyn Ali along with other press members visited a number of food and wine producers in the area.
• Golf Odyssey – September 24-October 1
TOTA co-ordinated a rather different type of golf media FAM this fall, which might be described as like a 'secret shopper'. Golf Odyssey is a subscription-based e-newsletter with a very high-end readership based in the U.S.A. The FAM tour focused on high-end accommodation and courses. The participating suppliers knew of the intended week for the press trip, but not the specific date or time.
• Japan Media tour – September 30-October 5
TOTA co-ordinated a comprehensive tour of the Okanagan for a writer and photographer who were on assignment from the Tourism BC office in Japan. The purpose of the FAM was to gather material for a new brochure in the Japanese language. 2003 was the last time our brochure was updated, so the timing was right for a visit to a lot of new Thompson Okanagan products! The Tourism BC office in Japan constantly receives requests from travel agents and consumers for printed materials in Japanese.
• Travel Classics/Bob Howells – October 2-6
TOTA and some suppliers received a mini-wave of visiting journalists at the beginning of October. Several writers, including one from California, who attended the prestigious Travel Classics Trade Show in Vancouver wanted to see a little more of B.C. than just Vancouver. Bob Howells spent a few days in the Okanagan researching story ideas for a number of publications he writes for including Men's Health, National Geographic, and Outside Magazine.
• Travel Classics/Bree Sposato – October 9-12
Another writer attending the Travel Classics trade show in Vancouver toured the valley from Penticton to Vernon. Bree Sposato is an Associate Editor at Jetsetter, an invitation-only community of travellers that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world's top vacations. Bree hails from New York.
• Travel Classics/Jackie Dishner – October 10-13
The last Travel Classics trade show writer who visited our region – Jackie Dishner from Phoenix – is the author of Backroads & Byways of Arizona and writes about road travel, historic towns, walking tours, biking for spiritual growth, food and wine, and adventures gone quirky. Jackie visited the South Okanagan from Osoyoos to Kelowna looking for new ideas to write about and to chronicle her exploits on her Facebook, Twitter and blog sites.
• Travel Mail U.K./Sarah Gordon – October 11-15
TOTA along with several suppliers hosted a journalist writing for the Travel Mail pages on the website for the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom.
• The Great Canadian Adventure Tour – October 9-10
The Great Canadian Adventure Tour (GCAT) was a corporate social media video project that travelled across Canada this past summer and fall. Its objective was to attract and maintain 300,000 to 500,000 followers in addition to creating a huge e-marketing database. The Gemini-nominated Eagar Brothers along with a small crew visited the Okanagan in order to capture a video segment on the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. The tour is designed to encourage Canadians to explore and travel in their own country, while also promoting Canada as a destination for international travellers.
• Dom Joly UK – October 12-17
Dom Joly – a British television comedian and journalist as well as author with several books to his name – visited the Okanagan for a week. He is also a travel writer for both the Sunday Times and the Mail On Sunday, in the United Kingdom. Dom was researching a book on monsters, and Ogopogo was a part of his research. He was also on a travel feature assignment for the Independent newspaper – an article that will include details on his hunt for our region's very own lake monster.