It was another record year for tourism in Kamloops in 2018, according to Monica Dickinson, director of industry relations and communications at Tourism Kamloops.
This aligns with similar tourism growth both provincially and nationally.
It was the third consecutive year of growth for the city, which saw 1.85 million visitors come through Kamloops at an increase of 4.5 per cent over the previous year.
When it comes to tourism spending, that translates to nearly a half-billion dollars brought into the Kamloops economy, with $282 million of direct visitor spending.
Eight out of 12 months recorded revenue growth, mostly in off-peak months, which is where Tourism Kamloops had been focusing on driving growth.
Dickinson says this trend is expected to continue in 2019.
“We’re projecting another 3.5 per cent growth in revenue,” she said.
That number is in line with national growth expectations of four to six per cent.
Tourism Kamloops has a few tourism initiatives planned for 2019, many of them based on encouraging local residents to be ambassadors for their own cities.
“We know the power of word of mouth is really what supports the industry in consumers making decisions for travel,” Dickinson said. This kind of word of mouth marketing is what’s behind their Together In Tourism campaign.
The campaign involves engaging with the business community and elected officials to help them understand the importance of tourism to the community. They also urged have in their back pocket a list of things going on in the community, so when they’re out talking to friends or family, or even visitors to the community, they can answer questions about their city.
A similar campaign, called Luv’n the Loops, will introducing locals to some of the great amenities and getaways that are in the region through guided tours, so some Kamloops residents will be even better informed about what’s available in the region.
Recent polls suggest residents believe investing in the tourism industry makes economic sense.
For example, 94.5 per cent of residents thought tourism had a positive economic impact on Kamloops, while 86.7 per cent thought money spent to attract tourists was a good investment.
Interestingly, the poll also showed that 77 per cent of residents supported the idea of a conference centre for Kamloops, a project that could also help bring tourism dollars to the city.
“When we look at building tourism outside of peak season, one of the largest opportunities is through meetings and conference hosting,” Dickinson said.
Though they continue to market across B.C. and Alberta, Tourism Kamloops looks to spend 2019 working to open new opportunities for tourism in the city.