Fall tourism boosts economy

Local residents are being urged by the provincial government to participate in staycations.

It’s time to enjoy what travellers from around the world came to the Thompson-Okanagan for this summer.

Local residents are being urged by the provincial government to participate in staycations.

“It’s fall, the summer crowds have gone and it’s a great time to enjoy a staycation. It is an opportunity to fall for B.C. and enjoy our amazing province,” said Shirley Bond, jobs minister.

“I encourage British Columbians to staycation and visit one of the six diverse regions that make B.C. stand out as a world-class tourism destination.”

As an economic driver in the province, tourism employs 132,000 people, almost one in every 15 jobs in B.C. in 2013.

The sector also has more than 19,200 tourism-related businesses and paid out $4.5 billion in wages and salaries to tourism workers in 2013 – an increase of 3.8 per cent over the year before.

And according to government statistics, more people are coming to the province.

In 2014, 4.65 million international travellers came to B.C.

That is a 5.3 per cent increase, and nearly a quarter million more visitors than were welcomed in 2013.

As well, so far in 2015, year-to-date visitors are up 8.8 per cent over the same period last year.

Here are some activities for a Thompson-Okanagan staycation:

Top fall drive: Armstrong drive circle route. Enjoy fall colours, farms and amazing scenery.

Drop in and see what fall looks like in the desert at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, Osoyoos.

Enjoy a Mascot Gold Mine Tour in Hedley.

Take in the R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum in Salmon Arm.

Shop and sample wines at Okanagan wineries.

Enjoy the Four by Four, tribute to the Beach Boys, Beatles, the Bee-Gees and Motown, Nov. 2 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

“From cycling and winery tours to beaches, camping and plush resorts, the Thompson-Okanagan has everything you could want in a vacation destination without leaving B.C.,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“By vacationing close to home you are also strengthening our regional economies.”