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Canada Day turnout heralds good summer for Kelowna, B.C. tourism

Click to play video: 'Tourism on the rebound in Kelowna, B.C.' Tourism on the rebound in Kelowna, B.C.
Tens of thousands of people visited downtown Kelowna on Canada Day, the first one without any restrictions since 2019. As Victoria Femia reports, it could be a sign of a very busy summer ahead for the city – Jul 2, 2022

The first Canada Day without any COVID-19 restrictions turned out to be the largest event Kelowna, B.C. has seen in years, boosting the outlook for the tourism industry.

“By all accounts, I think this was a great start to the tourism season and I think this will probably be the busiest summer we have ever seen,” said Colin Basran, Mayor of Kelowna.

“I think the message to anyone visiting our city is we want you here, we want you to have fun, but come and act accordingly.”

Statistics Canada reports the country’s tourism industry GDP was down close to 50 per cent in 2020. Now, ahead of a restriction-free summer, tourist attractions are already getting busier and Canada Day was proof of that.

READ MORE: Great start to Kelowna tourism season

“We started right off the jump. We typically had anywhere between a 30 [minute] to 2-hour wait-time throughout the whole day,” Jared Lee Central Kitchen + Bar Co-Owner. “But it was steady, people coming out. It’s nice to see people having fun.”
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Smile Cycle Tours in Kelowna, which offers a way to get around the city to visit all your favourite restaurants, saw a similar trend.

“We had a lot more tours going on, we had back-to-back all day yesterday and that’s super exciting for us because we all love being here, we love that COVID restrictions are lifted,” said Sonja Ruevekamp, Smile Cycle Tour Guide.

Ruevekamp added that many people on Friday’s tours came from all across Canada, and she’s seeing more of that as the summer progresses.

According to Statistics Canada, this year already saw an uptick in international visitors. Close to 800,000 Americans visited Canada this April, eight times more than in April of 2021.

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