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WestJet encourages winter season in South Okanagan

WestJet will offer easy access to Penticton from Calgary for the first time.
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PENTICTON - The arrival of WestJet in Penticton is encouraging the City, tourism and other organizations throughout the South Okanagan to focus on what the region as to offer in the winter season.

AirCanada will no longer be the sole airline flying out of Penticton once WestJet joins the ranks at the end of October, offering the first-ever eastbound flight to Calgary. Marketing efforts from the City, Tourism Penticton, the Penticton Hospitality Association and Chamber of Commerce are focusing on bringing people to Penticton during the winter months, and turning the South Okanagan into a multi-season destination.

Apex Mountain Resort is on board, offering ski and hotel packages, and even wineries are grabbing at the chance to try something new by offering wine tastings and tours during their off-season, says Colleen Pennington, the city’s economic development director.

“We have all these great winter things to do here, we just haven’t gone out and told people about them,” she says. 

The majority of businesses (86 per cent) said access to air transportation is critical for business. There were 17,000 trips made from Penticton to Calgary (via Vancouver) in 2012, according to a  survey done by the City.

Pennington said there are four target demographics they are hoping to hit: tourism, use by residents, friends and family and business.

The goal is to keep people thinking local, Pennington says. Fewer Penticton residents and visitors flying through Kelowna means more money for our city. Spending money, even small things like a coffee, dinner or parking all adds up, she says.

Encouraging friends and family needs to be a community effort, she says. People need to share what events are going on in Penticton, and our city benefits if people visit for even a weekend, she says.

Penticton's milder climate offers golf at times of the year when other areas are still covered in snow.

“You can get on a golf course here in March and you can’t do that in Calgary,” Pennington said.

Penticton is less than an hour flight away from the Alberta hub—a shorter trip than driving to Banff for a weekend winter getaway, she says. There is no reason why Penticton and the South Okanagan can’t have a winter season, she says. And the addition of WestJet flights is going to help make that possible.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Meaghan Archer at marcher@infotelnews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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