Winter tourism looking strong
Madison Reeve - Nov 16, 2023 - Biz Releases

Despite many Canadians living simpler lives due to sky-high inflation rates, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association anticipates a strong winter season.

“A lot of the snowbirds that come to this part of the world and used to maybe go to the United States are seeing this as a better value,” TOTA chief executive officer Ellen Walker-Mathews said. “So we are seeing some good numbers starting to percolate out of many of our destinations with domestic market individuals.”

Walker-Mathews said Pacific Coastal Airlines has also increased the number of flights into the region.

“We have got new flights in Kamloops, Kelowna and, starting in January, new flights into Penticton,” she said.

Although Big White Ski Resort has yet to open, bookings have started to roll in. Big White Ski Resort senior vice-president and TOTA board chair Michael J. Ballingall says all that is needed now is snow.

“We need some more storms. We are very nervous about opening day,” Ballingall said. “We are hoping that this weekend … the storms that are coming from the Pacific will deliver 30 to 40 centimetres, and if that is the case we will be in a much better condition than we are right now.”

Big White has a current snow base of 35 centimetres. Ballingall said about 65 to 75 centimetres is needed to open. Big White is scheduled to open on Nov. 23.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort outside Kamloops is going ahead with its opening day on Nov. 18 with a mid-mountain base of just 30 centimetres. Only two runs will be open to start.

At Big White, Ballingall said bookings for Christmas and New Year’s “are incredibly positive.”

“We are going to introduce a special ticket … Black Friday to Cyber Monday,” he said. “It will be the cheapest ticket that we have ever offered in the market for Christmas and New Year’s, so people should stay tuned for that. Prices of groceries, mortgages … that concerns all of us too. So we are going to give a break for the local audience and those visiting.”

An announcement on the Big White deal will be made public in the coming weeks.

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