Tourism looking strong

Flood and smoke aren’t stopping tourists from exploring the North Okanagan.

City of Vernon officials are pleased overall with the tourism season despite weather-related challenges and the negative media they have fuelled.

“Some of our hotels and motels in the valley have great occupancy and are pacing on par or better than 2016, but others are experiencing cancellations,” said Ange Chew, tourism manager.

“Lake activities are down 20 to 30 per cent but then we have growth in other sectors of 30 per cent increases. Most other activities are on par, or slightly ahead or behind. We definitely have had cancellations but have been able to pick up and fill with last-minute drive traffic.”

Figures for June aren’t in yet, but Chew is anticipating it will be on par or a bit stronger than 2016.

However, Chew admits marketing the region has been difficult due to media coverage of wildfires in B.C.

“Not all of B.C. is burning but the state of emergency and international news have unfortunately lead visitors to believe all of B.C. is affected, along with challenges about accurate access route information, will probably lead to lower room tax numbers in July and August compared to 2016,” she said, adding, though, that September will be strong with the BC 55+ Games.

Along with other agencies in the region, Tourism Vernon has been getting the message out to the media and visitors that the area is open for business.

“Overall visitation to Vernon is holding and we are hoping for a strong extended summer finish with the skies clearing and lake activities back to normal,” said Chew.