KAMLOOPS - Kamloops can expect to see more and more visitors as tourism growth is expected to continue to grow in 2017.
With Canada 150 coming, Tourism Kamloops is expecting another strong year after significant growth in 2016.
Monica Dickinson with Tourism Kamloops says hotel accommodation revenue, which is the main way the organization measures success, grew by 11 per cent last year compared to 2015.
“We’re in line with the province,” she says. “We’ve had a fantastic year.”
While the number of visitors are only confirmed up to the end of September, Dickinson says anecdotally, there was similar growth to the end of November.
She says the growth in late fall is due in part to the warm weather the region experienced, pointing out that Kamloops is often a weekend getaway for people in Vancouver, Calgary or Washington State who make decisions based the weather. One of the goals for Tourism Kamloops is to increase travel to the city outside of the peak summer season.
“We are also forecasting 2017 to be strong as well,” Dickinson says. “We’ve forecast a four per cent growth over 2016.”
Overall 2017 is expected to be a big year for tourism in Canada, with the country’s 150 celebration and many travel articles listing it as a top destination, including Lonely Planet and the New York Times.
Despite there being no national parks or historic sites near Kamloops, which are free for the year of 2017 and expected to draw big numbers of visitors, Dickinson doesn't think that will hurt Kamloops.The city’s position between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies will bode well for more tourism, as drivers cross the province and stop in Kamloops.
“We’re so well positioned I think we’re going to see a lot of trickle over,” she says. “We’re going to see some overflow.”
Evidence of that likelihood is in the RV market, which is quite robust right now, Dickinson says. There’s also an expectation for continued growth from driving markets in B.C., Alberta and Washington and international travellers from Europe and Australia. Visitors from Asian countries are less likely, she says, as they gravitate to urban areas and less growth is expected in that category.
While Canada 150 is likely to cause short term economic growth, she also sees the city’s burgeoning wine and beer scene as a more permanent draw. With two new breweries slated to open in 2016 and Brewloops growing, weekend escapers are more likely to look to Kamloops for a couple days.
"The drive market is a quick, easy conversion for us," Dickinson says. "It positions as a great place to come and drink beer."
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