Kelowna News

Lake Country visitor's centre gets new home at Gatzke Orchards

Owner Alan Gatzke in front of his 25 acre farm that also features a cafe-bakery, fruit market, wedding and live music venue as well as being a popular destination for farm tours.

This June, visitors to Lake Country can head to a rural farm to get the scoop on local attractions. Gatzke Orchards will be a one-stop shop for those looking to sample fresh okanagan fruits while figuring out what to do during their visit.

Economic Development Manager Ryan Roycroft says while most people now use the internet to plan out their vacations, a visitor's centre gives them a local road map to the smaller places they might not know about. 

"About 94 per cent of trip planning is done online, so the visitor's centre provides that personal touch—that last mile—to give them direction to some of the smaller services available," he says.

Some of those smaller, hidden gems include farm tours at places like Gatzke Orchards, the Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm and municipal parks like Beasley and Reiswig that have access to the beach.

"High-level promotions hopefully bring people to the community and then we convert those visitors into sales for local tourism opportunities," he says.

The visitor's centre aims to promote smaller businesses lacking big marketing budgets.

It's not the first time the 25-acre Gatzke farm has hosted the visitor's centre. In its last year at the farm, back in 2006, it attracted about 9,600 visitors whereas the subsequent location at the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce only saw 5,300 visitors in 2011.

"Gatzke has a lot of other opportunities for visitors," Roycroft says, including on-site concerts.

"It provides more of a reason for tourists to pull off than just visitor's information."

As of June 21 the visitor's centre will be up and running in the small red barn just south of the Gatzke sales building.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

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