Summerland tourism numbers rise

Here in the Thompson-Okanagan region many of our tourists are home grown coming from other areas of the province.

According to Statistics Canada, American visitors to Canada dropped substantially last year — from six million in 2011 to about three million in 2012. In the past the Canadian Tourism Commission has invested substantially in marketing to the U.S. but this year the CTC removed all their advertising dollars from the U.S. and is instead investing them overseas. As a result, the overseas market is picking up.  In B.C. though, the U.S. is still the largest overnight market and the newly created Destination BC Corp. will continue to market B.C. throughout the U.S. especially in key states such as Washington, California, Oregon and Texas.

Here in the Thompson-Okanagan region many of our tourists are home grown coming from other areas of the province.  As well we welcome many visitors from Alberta and Washington and see these as key markets for advertising.

This year, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce has invested in marketing efforts that attract people close to home such as travellers from around the Okanagan.

We’ve also participated in an innovative joint marketing effort with Penticton, Naramata and Okanagan Falls called You Are Here.

This campaign has combined traditional print media along with social media efforts and has targeted lower mainland and Alberta travellers.

Our international outreach is done in cooperation with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Summerland, along with other communities in the region, is featured in their print and online tourism publications.

Do advertising campaigns work? Yes, and the beauty of online efforts is that you can track who has clicked on your website and how long they have spent browsing through the pages. We will be investing more resources in online efforts in the coming years.

Happily, we have hard evidence as well. The numbers of visitors coming to the visitor centre were close to even from January to June 2013 compared to 2012. But for the month of July people stopping by the visitor centre have increased by more than 14 per cent over the number of visitors in July 2012. That’s positive news. At this point, August is also up over last year.

We know that many people make tourism decisions based on our destination marketing efforts and their own personal research. We want to give them a great first impression of Summerland when they are doing their online investigating. This is why we are investing in a new dedicated tourism website that will be completed and launched early in 2014.

We are also working on a new tourism video for Summerland that people will be able to link to from the site.

And I’m proud to say that when our visitors arrive, they are having a fantastic time.

To read some of the great reviews of Summerland accommodations, restaurants, wineries, attractions and even the visitor centre, check out tripadvisor.ca and type Summerland, B.C. in the search box. You’ll be impressed.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at  president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at  manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. All of the members of the board of directors serve as volunteers.