Rylie Swiscoski

Rylie Swiscoski

Tourism strong despite weather

Tourists have been beating a path to the North Okanagan despite poor weather

Tourists have been beating a path to the North Okanagan despite poor weather.

Rain and less-than-seasonal temperatures trumped the valley’s legendary heat during much of May and June. But those who monitor the tourism industry say there has been little negative impact.

“When we compare May and June of 2010 to the same period in 2011, we are up by over 20 per cent,” said executive director Tate Bengston of visitors stopping at the Enderby Chamber of Commerce.

“We have noticed a fairly significant increase in European visitors and a smaller increase in Albertan visitors.  As well, we have had more car and cycling club tours stop by due to Enderby’s central location.”

Where the weather kept tourists away, was people who live within two hours of Enderby.

Bengston is optimistic about the rest of the summer.

“Hits to our website are up over last year and interest in the Exploring Enderby guide has surged, which suggests ongoing interest in Enderby’s attractions and amenities,” he said.

Staff and volunteers at Vernon’s visitor information centres have also been kept busy.

“A large number of Europeans have come here and they come despite the weather because they booked their trips months ago,” said said Michelle Jefferson, Tourism Vernon manager.

Traffic from the Lower Mainland and Calgary was slower in May and June, but that is increasing as the weather improves.

“There is more awareness of Vernon and that translates into an ability for people to come to Vernon,” said Jefferson.

Sunshine and warm temperatures couldn’t come soon enough for Atlantis Waterslides.

“It’s been a really slow start,” said manager Elaine Dillabaugh of the rain and late-season chill that kept crowds away.

“But it’s starting to pick up. People want to get refreshed in the water.”

A major boost for the tourism industry came over the Canada Day long weekend.

“Funtastic brings thousands of people into the area and the accommodations were mostly full. Davison Orchards ran out of pies July 1 and O’Keefe Ranch had a great weekend,” said Jefferson.