The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association held its recent annual general meeting at Sparkling Hil Resort in Vernon. The session included signing a partnership with Southern Queensland Country Tourism in Australia.

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association held its recent annual general meeting at Sparkling Hil Resort in Vernon. The session included signing a partnership with Southern Queensland Country Tourism in Australia.

Tourism sector goes international

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association has signed an information-sharing agreement with Southern Queensland Country Tourism

The Okanagan’s tourism industry has found a new partner Down Under.

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association has signed an information-sharing agreement with Southern Queensland Country Tourism in what is being called the first international region-to-region tourism partnership ever formed.

“The memorandum of understanding is an exciting commitment by the two organizations to exchange information about best practices in tourism development and promotion, and to look for opportunities to work together for the benefit of the tourism industry in both regions,” said Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA chief executive officer.

“The agreement doesn’t have a fixed duration, but will be reviewed every two years.”

The parties signed the agreement during TOTA’s annual general meeting at Vernon’s Sparkling Hill Resort.

While not legally binding either party to any financial or other obligations, the MOU states that TOTA and SQCT will:

n Exchange industry best practices on the development of sustainable, competitive destinations.

n Discuss destination management, product/visitor experience development, and promotion.

n Identify labour exchange opportunities that would expand awareness of global tourism.

n Foster discussion and research between each region’s educational institutions.

“Thompson Rivers University and Okanagan College are already exploring initiatives with counterparts in Southern Queensland.,” said Mandziuk.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO Mary-Clare Power believes TOTA is doing excellent work on a number of fronts in regional tourism, and she looks forward to the benefits that TOTA and SQCT will both gain through this new partnership.

TOTA has also announced the results of recent online voting to elect stakeholders to seven of the positions on its board of directors.

Elected to two-year terms were Michael J. Ballingall, with Big White Ski Resort; Ingrid Jarrett, with the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos; Sally Pierce, with the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton; Gene Covert, with Covert Farms and Covert Farms Family Estate Winery; Russell Critchlow, of River Safari in Blue River; Brad Pelletier,  with Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon; and Kelly Watt, of the Sandman Hotel in Kelowna.

The Board’s 2013-14 executive will be chairperson Michael J. Ballingall, vice-chairperson George Hanson, treasurer Christine Latimer and secretary Sally Pierce.