Visitors stay nearly four times longer in Kelowna than they do in Kamloops, council learned on Tuesday. The average stay in the River City is 1.6 days, compared to 6.2 days in the Little Apple.
“Our priority and what is the driving force of our marketing activity is one more night,” Tourism Kamloops CAO Beverley DeSantis said.
DeSantis said additional experiences and infrastructure would help to increase the duration of visitor stays and lead to more tourism dollars flowing into Kamloops. The city’s largest visitor type is leisure visitors. In 2018, they contributed $123.3 million to the economy — a number that could nearly double should visitors choose to stay one more night.
“There’s a huge opportunity to grow our visitor economy,” DeSantis said.
Tourism Kamloops is also keenly interested in attracting business travellers. DeSantis noted the economic impact is quadruple that of leisure visitors, at about $620 per day, due to accommodations and meals primarily paid for by businesses.
“This travel sector fits within our needs periods, levelling out our seasonal cycles, and drives big money into our hospitality, retail and secondary markets,” DeSantis said.
She told council Tourism Kamloops supports the city in exploring the idea of a civic centre, which could allow for hosting of large conferences, trade shows and events.
“Tourism Kamloops wants to continue this conversation with public stakeholders and local elected officials to better understand the scope and goals of projects of this scale,” DeSantis said. “We are also very committed to opening new opportunities for tourism within the city and believe this type of project could support a push to attract business tourism and other leisure travellers.”
Tourism Kamloops conducted a one-day poll in the fall during the civic election campaign, reaching 480 residents via landline and cellphone. DeSantis said that poll determined almost 80 per cent of respondents were supportive of such an infrastructure project.
In 2018, the tourism industry in Kamloops had a total economic impact of $467 million, up from $449 million in 2017. The industry accounts for more than 4,100 local jobs. DeSantis said accommodations, retail, food and beverage and transportation grew.
In addition, Kamloops wineries last year became part of a new B.C. appellation called the Thompson Valley wine region and the Buskers Festival launched locally.
But there are weaknesses
Tourism Kamloops identified air quality — from sources including wildfire smoke and Domtar stacks — and accessibility issues related to the city’s hills as weaknesses in attracting visitors.
“We need to work closer with our community and through marketing efforts to ensure we’re doing the best we can to provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly destination,” DeSantis said.