The Okanagan tourism industry has a new partner.
Talks between the Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association and the North Central Washington Economic Development District hasve culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA chief executive officer, says there are natural benefits to both sides and without a written statement, it is too easy for good ideas to slide amidst the bustle of business.
“We see our relationship as developing the gateway.”
NCWEDD covers the Okanogan, Douglas and Chelan communities and the Colville Confederated Tribe.
Jennifer Korfiatis, NCWEDD administrator, says Leavenworth is a huge tourist draw within her region, attracting upwards of two million visitors annually, but even Leavenworth is unknown to many Canadians.
Mandziuk wonders how many Americans visiting Leavenworth from the Seattle area know anything of the area north of the border.
Both are convinced that some co-operation between the two areas could bring big benefits in extended tourist visits.
“The stronger they are, the better we are,” said Mandziuk.
The MOU itself states: “The purpose of this MOU is to define the areas where the parties will seek opportunities to work together with a view to providing key learning opportunities to strengthen the overall capacity and competitiveness of the tourism industry and its relevant stakeholders.”
The MOU’s scope covers collaborative tourism initiatives in areas of mutual interest. Strong contenders for this collaboration include travellers along Highway 97, the development of joint itineraries, opportunities to establish electric car charging stations, co-operation on relevant research projects and initiatives to share information between visitor information centres in the two regions.
The MOU does not commit either side to spend money or resources at this point, nor share proprietary or confidential information, but both Mandziuk and Korfiatis clearly believe that there will be good reasons to commit some resources in the future.