August 08, 2013 - 8:30 AM
PENTICTON - The Penticton Hospitality Association markets and represents 40-plus hotel and hospitality businesses but critics say it's been failing at its primary task.
Coun. John Vassilaki criticized the association at Tuesday's council meeting for not doing enough to promote the city's summer tourist season.
Rochester Resort manager Pattie Webster wants to know where the money is going. "I haven't seen it going back into the community."
The Rochester is one of the many hotels lining Lakeshore Drive, one of Penticton's best tourism assets. Thousands regularly crowd the one-kilometre boardwalk and sandy beach stretching from the Lakeside Resort and Casino to the SS Sicamous Okanagan Heritage Museum.
Webster was told the association has big plans for the fall season and 2014 but she was not impressed.
\"What about this season? All the hotels on the strip would appreciate it."
The association benefits from a two per cent tax on Penticton hotels. It has more than $300,000 in a marketing budget and told city council at a May meeting it has $150,000 earmarked for projects. Council grilled operations director Tim Hodgkinson, secretary-treasurer Marko Crucnik and association president Robert Appelman on their performance.
Hotel owner Trinka Pontes said Penticton tourism is hurting and it needs a boost. The association was to provide that but what it did went unreported. This lack of feedback is what spurred Pontes to get the association to make their May council presentation.
The association has also faced roadblocks with issues between it and another tourism promoter, Casa Grande's Bed and Breakfast marketer Stacey Tonita said. The situation is getting better though.
The association is communicating more and managed to support several festivals and activities this year which is "something the city has never done."
Appelman defended the association's actions on Tuesday and said Penticton is more than just a summer destination and it is why the group is marketing for fall tourists. The Skaha Meadows Golf Course next to his home stays open 360 days a year. "The weather is still beautiful."
"We are moving forward with what the (community) provides," Appelman said. The city is more than just wineries and beaches. "Whether it's downtown shops, hotels, ice cream shops - whatever Penticton has the association wants to market."
Appelman also said trends are shifting with people waiting until the last minute before leaving their home for vacation. Marketing months in advance is fruitless. This was a sore point for Vassilaki at Tuesday's council meeting.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013