2018 anomaly means tourist visit stats way up in Thompson-Okanagan this year - InfoNews

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2018 anomaly means tourist visit stats way up in Thompson-Okanagan this year

November saw big increases in tourist visits to the Thompson Okanagan region, with more visitors from other parts of B.C., the prairies and Ontario.
December 20, 2019 - 6:00 AM

This year’s shoulder season tourist trade in the Thompson-Okanagan is looking a lot better than last year’s for a couple of reasons.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association released November and year-to-date tourist visitor data in a recent newsletter, showing total visitation to the region up by 127 per cent over November last year.

A major reason for the increase comes from the fact 2018 was not a banner year for tourism in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Symphony Tourism Services managing director Simone Carlysle-Smith said in an email that 2018 was an anomaly of a year with floods, fires and smoke incidents and the worse year on record for climate related incidents in BC. Symphony Tourism Services is the association's commercial division.

"Therefore direct comparisons from 2019 to 2018 would not indicate a trend but rather an isolated period. 2019 data will be used as the new baseline as we have been in recovery since the sharp drop in visitation in 2018, which extended into fall," she wrote.

She says shoulder season tourism is also up because more and more operators and destinations are promoting seasonal product.

“Any success for the industry is shared amongst all stakeholders as opposed to any single entity,” Carlysle-Smith says.

As far as where the visitors are coming from, much of the region’s tourism draws from other parts of the province as well as the prairies, with B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario leading the way in top visitor origin locations.

B.C. visitation was up 151 per cent, while Alberta increased by 90 per cent over last November. The number of Saskatchewan tourists rose by 61 per cent and Ontario visitors increased by 111 per cent compared to November a year ago.

International visitation was also up overall, with the U.S. leading the way at 18 per cent. The number of Australian visitors dropped by 41 per cent over November a year ago but visitors from the United Kingdom were up 70 per cent over November 2018.

Carlysle-Smith says the Australian market may have suffered due to the price of airfares which are on the rise.

“Historically airlines have offered a seat sale January to March but that was not the case this year. Coupled with that, Australia is now going through a downturn in their economy so travellers who would book a two- to three-week holiday are now only booking four days to one week,” she wrote, a trend expected to continue into next year.

Other international visitors tended to stay longer this year, with overnight stays up in all categories.


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