KAMLOOPS — 2016 has been a fantastic year for tourism in Kamloops.
Tourism Kamloops CEO Beverley DeSantis says the local tourism industry is experiencing a visitor boom, and an increase in accommodation revenues.
"We're up 18 per cent overall, year-to-date, with record months in February, April, May and June, (and an) overall visitor increase of 36 per cent," DeSantis said. "We're seeing an uplift from Alberta, British Columbia, the rest of Canada pretty much, and over into Europe, so this is good news for us."
The tourism sector tends to heat up in the summer months, with plenty of outdoor activities and marquee events attracting visitors to the area.
"We did have the Women's Worlds, we've had filming here ... we had Hockey Day in Canada, and Destination BC has been working very diligently in the world markets, bringing more recognition to the BC product globally," DeSantis said.
Kamloops typically boasts hot and dry summers, perfect weather for people looking to work on their golf swing. However, this summer was much cooler and rainier than normal.
Mount Paul Golf Course owner Danny Latin said forecasts of severe thunderstorms had a bit of an impact on business this summer.
"This year maybe July hurt us a little more than some years weather-wise," Latin said. "And then the first five or six days of September, they were just about a washout, so that's unusual for us."
The accommodations sector saw only a handful of people change their plans as the clouds rolled in.
"There's always those last-minute weekenders that maybe don't come when the forecast is a little poor," Tim Rodgers, general manager for Best Western Plus Kamloops, said, "but for the most part, we have not seen a drop because of that. They're coming, they've made their plans months and months ago, and they come rain or shine."
Rodgers said even a poor economic climate in Alberta couldn't slow visitor traffic.
"It's been a phenomenal summer," he said. "We're pleasantly surprised with how Alberta has done this year, we did expect with the economy and with the fire that we'd see a drop, but we've actually seen an increase. Even the September long weekend, we still had many Albertans come through, so we're pleasantly surprised with that volume."
While tourists from Alberta and the rest of Canada continue to travel to Kamloops, Tourism Kamloops is working to entice Americans to the area by promoting mountain biking in and around the city.
"We're already world-renowned and very well-respected for our mountain bike product here in Kamloops," Beverley DeSantis said. "Now we're just going to tell more and more people about it, and get more and more people here."
That same goal of attracting tourists is sure to carry through into Tourism Kamloops' renewed strategic plan, which is expected to be released to the public in late November.
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