Firstly, we want to express our deepest sympathies to all the evacuees who have been displaced because of the multiple fires burning throughout the Okanagan Valley. Having been evacuated during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire back in 2003, we completely empathize with those who have had to pack up their lives in a short period of time to head to safety. We thank the hundreds of firefighters, pilots, and volunteers that are working countless hours keeping our city, structures and residents safe.
As a small business we have struggled with how to address the fine line between trying to promote our tourist-dependent business and show respect and sympathy for those in our community facing such hardships because of these fires. We are only one of the hundreds of small businesses in Kelowna that depend on the influx of visitors to our beautiful vacation destination to make their livelihood. So how do we continue to market our destination when news outlets are fixated on advertising that our “City is on Fire”? We need to challenge back with the reality of the situation. The fires have impacted the region, no question there, but there are still hundreds of incredible activities that can still be enjoyed and need our support!
How to Support the Tourism Industry During Fire Season in Kelowna:
The wine is still being poured, the lake is still refreshing, and the restaurants are still serving. The following activities are great examples of how to support the tourism industry while still respecting those impacted by the fires:
- Winery Experiences
One of the Okanagan Valley’s most premier activities is wine touring. The wineries are still open and ready to delight your palette. When planning a wine tour, please check road conditions (DriveBC is a great resource) to ensure your planned route is not impacted by the fires.
- Water Activities
The Okanagan Lake stretches 135km from Vernon to Penticton for you to enjoy a refreshing swim, day on the boat or paddle along the Kelowna Paddle Trail. Please keep in mind that fire fighting efforts use the lake as well, avoid boating around areas where water pickups are required.
- Support Local Shops
Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Kelowna, try to support local shops as much as possible! This Saturday, July 21st, is the Downtown Kelowna Block Party on Bernard Avenue and the Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market happens every Wednesday & Saturday through the summer.
- Eat & Drink Local
The Okanagan Valley provides us a bounty of incredible ingredients that our local Chefs showcase at restaurants throughout the valley. Many restaurants also have extensive wine lists supporting the BC Wine Regions which make it easy to support local while dining.
- Respect the Valley
We hope you continue to enjoy the mountains, regional parks and many other outdoor experiences in the Valley. Please respect the fire bans, be aware of your surroundings and ensure to report any potential fires to *5555 on your mobile phone.
We encourage you to continue to promote our beautiful destination and encourage those family members, friends and guests to come and enjoy Kelowna. The sun continues to shine, the lake still sparkles, and our tourism partners are open and ready to welcome visitors!