August weather hasn't been kind to Penticton tourist attractions - InfoNews

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August weather hasn't been kind to Penticton tourist attractions

The summer is ending on a flat note for Penticton tourist attractions after several weeks of smoky skies followed by a drop in temperatures in the final week of August.
August 31, 2018 - 4:00 PM

PENTICTON - The economic impact of this year’s smoky skies on Penticton business has yet to be calculated, but for local attractions, the verdict is already in - the last few weeks of August have not been kind to the bottom line.

Travel Penticton executive director Thom Tischik says anyone trying to make their living in the 60 days of a Penticton summer are going to be impacted by this year’s smoke.

“It’s pretty obvious, it’s going to be a challenge for some businesses throughout the valley and the province,” Tischik says, adding without direct numbers from business as of yet, there is bound to be negative or no growth in the tourism industry “in this type of situation.”

Tischik recalls last year’s August brought some smoky days, but not to the extent of this year’s severe, long lasting smoke, which, because of a stagnant weather system, lingered for the better part of two weeks.

“It’s a challenge for operators of attractions,” he says.

Wibit Water Park manager Brooke Planedin says the attraction, next to the SS Sicamous on Okanagan Lake Beach, has seen a decline in numbers since early August.

Summer is ending not with a bang, but more like a whimper. Okanagan Lake beach in Penticton is usually packed with tourists during the last week of August.
Summer is ending not with a bang, but more like a whimper. Okanagan Lake beach in Penticton is usually packed with tourists during the last week of August.

“I think it affected us. The weather has been cool and windy. Last year, August was busy right up to September. In the past three weeks we’ve either closed or had under 100 customers a day when normally as many as 400 come through,” Planedin says.

“After the first week of August, there was minimal visibility. The only people on the whole beach were here, at the water park. Now it’s turned cool,” she says, pointing to a handful of people that could be seen along the beach’s entire length.

Still, there was a bit of silver lining for tourism businesses this year.

Tischik says hard visitor numbers are difficult to ascertain over the past three years, as the tourist centre has moved three time in as many years, but this summer the centre’s mobile unit parked by the Peach Concession saw 7,400 people stop and make inquiries about what the region had to offer. Travel Penticton’s new facility on Westminster Avenue saw 6,500 visitors to date.

“Most of the visitors were from B.C., followed by local residents, Alberta and the rest of Canada,” Tischik says.

He says European visitors did not cancel their holiday plans in the Okanagan this year.

“The European numbers are the same as last year. The rest of the people that were here, hung on,” he says. "It wasn’t like it was clear elsewhere. There was smoke in the rest of Western Canada too."


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