Pandemic-related travel restrictions will likely be in place for some time, but once they are lifted, Kelowna may be on more traveller’s radars.
CNN Travel has unveiled its “21 Places to Visit in 2021” once travel is again allowed, and Kelowna has received a mention.
“To be singled out with other much larger centres in Canada, for Kelowna I think is a testament to our growing brand internationally,” said Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne.
Canada is one of the countries listed a place to visit post-pandemic.
The country is described by CNN Travel as offering “skiing, surfing, hiking, polar-bear spotting and Northern-lights sighting. Eclectic cuisine, world-class shopping, a diverse and rich culture.”
The travel website goes on to state, “This is Canada.”
But within Canada, Kelowna received a mention.
The Central Okanagan city along with Tofino and Vancouver were the only B.C. mentions.
CNN Travel described Kelowna as ideal for the” laid-back visitor with a picturesque lakeside wine country.”
Ballantyne said the timing of the exposure is critical for Kelowna as the local tourism industry looks ahead at recovery.
“Getting this kind of exposure on something like CNN Travel is so important right now when we’re trying to keep awareness of Kelowna high and awareness of the Okanagan high as the world waits for a return to safe travel,” Ballantyne said.
Business operators, many who are struggling through the pandemic, expressed delight at Kelowna receiving international exposure, including the owners/operators of Barn Owl Brewing.
“When it’s safe to do so and the vaccine takes a hold, when those in charge say it’s time to open up again, we will be most excited to welcome the world to this place, to Kelowna, to the brewery,” said Gary Brucker, co-owner of Barn Owl Brewing.
Brucker said it’s been a tough year, including a challenging Christmas season.
“Our Christmas party season was of course decimated,” Brucker said. “Last year, three days a week from November to January was all rentals, we had none. We also have live entertainment up here, we have none, so those kinds of things have hit our bottom line in a great way.”
But there may be some relief coming for local tourism-reliant businesses.
Ballantyne said Tourism Kelowna is working on a local campaign that will be launched in the next few weeks promoting the whole idea of being a tourist in your own hometown.
“We are going to try and push people locally to rediscover the tourism experience they can have right here in their own backyard,” Ballantyne said. “We think we have the winning combination we’re about to launch and that is a digital passport you’ll be seeing in just a few weeks. We’re excited to introduce to this market.”
Once restrictions are lifted, Ballantyne said the tourism organization will go “hot and heavy” with its marketing to bring back BC and Alberta tourists.