This coming week (May 30 to June 5) is Tourism Week across Canada. I suppose some communities need a little reminder its good to have company.
In Osoyoos, it seems every week is Tourism Week. Our summer season is almost upon us, bringing with it throngs of visitors from the Lower Mainland, Alberta and pretty much everywhere else in Canada — and the world.
During other months of the year, we are still a premier tourist destination. Our mild winters, extended golf and outdoors seasons and proximity to more seasonal attractions make Osoyoos a preferred place to hunker down when the weather gets nasty elsewhere.
Osoyoos is also an important waypoint along two well-travelled routes in the South Okanagan. Highway 3 takes traffic to and from the Lower Mainland. Hwy. 97 is the main corridor through the Okanagan and a major entry point to the United States.
The trick for us is getting the folks travelling those routes to stop, spend a little time in our communities, maybe hanging around for a closer look — and spending dollars in our local businesses.
It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves, though, of the benefits tourism brings to our community.
Tourists move money into Osoyoos from other parts of the province, the country and even the world. Their spending creates jobs, diversifies our economy and helps improve infrastructure.
We can thank tourists for the magnificent beaches we enjoy, the beautiful parks, marinas and facilities. Without tourists, there likely wouldn’t be an Osoyoos Golf and Country Club — at least not as it presently plays — no Gyro Park, no Spirit Ridge. Our wineries would be hard-pressed to survive on local dollars.
Tourists make us feel better about ourselves. We take more pride in our identity and further develop and maintain our traditions.
Tourism, particularly ecotourism, helps us place a greater focus on the conservation of natural resources. We are more inclined to look after our community — and surroundings — because we know they are important not only to us, but also to visitors.
Tourism is important to our community — even if there are times we wish those pesky visitors would just go away.
But it takes a community — a whole community — to build a visitor-friendly community.
That starts at the top — with local resorts determining to keep visitors in the community for activities and doing their purchasing wherever possible at local retailers — and extends through every resident who calls Osoyoos home stopping to answer a question on a street corner.
Think that through a moment. Then take a few minutes more to determine your own way to celebrate Tourism Week in Osoyoos.
The community you’ll be helping to build is your own.