September 24, 2013 - 8:22 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - There are 120,000 reasons why a shuttle should ferry people from as far south as Osoyoos to Kelowna International Airport.
Kelowna airport director Sam Samaddar says it's people. There are more than 100,000 out-of-region tourists and residents who use the airport and either live in the valley or visit the valley. But there's no one-stop shop shuttle service. People land and have to find their own means of getting around. For some this just means staying within range of Kelowna instead of heading south through wine country. Samaddar and other stakeholders want to change that.
"We are in the transportation business and there's no point to bringing people in from all over the world and dropping them off on the curb," Samaddar says, adding Toronto and Calgary's big airports offer extensive transportation services for airplane passengers.
The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce has been pursuing a dedicated shuttle service for about six years. Samaddar says it's got be a seamless process for passengers, to get off the plane and onto a shuttle, or visitors won't even book a flight.
The effort to build a shuttle service will be immense. Every community along Highway 97 will weigh in. Accommodation businesses will need consulting. Samaddar says flight schedules will need to be married with ground transportation services.
He also says this will be a boon for Penticton Regional Airport. Passengers could land in Kelowna, take the shuttle to Penticton and get onboard a smaller aircraft to land at a resort community.
Numerous calls were made to the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce transportation chair Robert Linttell, but were not returned. Linttell is the official most responsible for pushing the shuttle project forward.
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