Central Okanagan saw more visitors during 2020 than year before, despite pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan saw more visitors during 2020 than year before, despite pandemic

Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions about 100,000 more people visited the Central Okanagan in 2020 than in the banner year for tourism in 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Kelowna
March 01, 2021 - 3:32 PM

Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions about 100,000 more people visited the Central Okanagan in 2020 than in the banner year for tourism in 2019.

There were 1.9 million visitors in 2020, versus 1.8 million the year before according to statistics delivered to Kelowna city council today, March 1, by Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna, during her annual update.

“Visitors were not spending money in hotels,” Ballantyne told council. “Others, such as Airbnbs, did better.”

Hotel occupancy rates dropped 24.4 per cent in 2020, Ballantyne said in her report to council.

Because most of Tourism Kelowna’s revenue comes from a tax on hotel room rentals, the organization had to chop its budget from a pre-COVID $4.7 million to a 2021 budget of $2.7 million.

The good news is that, of the 1.8 million visitors in 2019, 91 per cent were from Canada and 77 per cent were return visitors.

“Kelowna is well positioned (to recover), with our domestic travel market, better than other communities that are more reliant on international visitors,” Ballantyne said.

Even so, it will take until the summer for a significant recovery to start, she said.


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