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Royal visit could boost the Okanagan economy

Images of the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge’s tour of the Okanagan are being seen around the world; in Big US brands like People Magazine, on countless media outlets in Europe and even publications out of Singapore and Hong Kong.

Tourism Kelowna calls the images enticing.

“Their stop here in Kelowna, West Kelowna and the Okanagan was just fantastic,” said Chris Shauf with Tourism Kelowna. “The destination showed off beautifully; sunny, warm weather and the food and wine
was the focus.”

Some writers went beyond covering the royal visit and actually suggested activities for tourists that would mimic the royal experience in the valley.

“So they can come here and do as William and Catherine did and see and taste the same experiences that they had,” said Shauf.

Hopes are high that all of this global coverage, showing off the culture, beauty, wine and food the Okanagan has to offer, will have people from all over booking their next vacations here.

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According to the B.C. government, international tourism numbers are already on the rise. A recent report shows more than 3.2-million international visitors came to our province between January and July of 2016. That’s a 12.5 per cent increase from 2015.

And there’s another big economic driver in the Okanagan that is hoping to benefit from the visit: UBC Okanagan.

“Well, I can say we’ve already had a lot more hits on our UBC application sites and our student recruitment sites,” said Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UBCO.

Buszard believes the attention will translate into a lot more interest in the university.

“I’m sure there were young folks out there who follow the young royals who could see the campus looks gorgeous and were just looking at their ipads and checking us out,” she said.

Tourism Kelowna said the tourism industry contributes $600 million in direct economic output annually to the region.

UBCO generates an economic impact of $1.5-billion dollars a year for the Okanagan.