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Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association Summit & AGM

For Immediate Release

October 17, 2023



‘Now is the Time’ to engage with tourism industry stakeholders

October 23 and 24 in Penticton

Kelowna, B.C. - Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA)’s annual Tourism Summit and AGM will be held on October 23 and 24 In Penticton. Appropriately themed, Now is the Time, the Summit will address the most pressing issues facing our industry today. Following an incredibly challenging tourism season, the role of education, leadership, collaboration and thoughtful action has never been more vital to the region’s collective success.

The Summit will unite industry experts, stakeholders, and partners, for a day of insightful discussions focused on the industry’s key concerns, including: emergency management, regional transportation, destination stewardship, sustainability and more.

Tourism professionals from across the region are encouraged to attend the South Okanagan Summit to support and strengthen Thompson Okanagan’s tourism community as well as its collective skill set. The Summit will centre on discussing ideas and solutions, building preparedness, elevating visitor experiences, and regenerating communities. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in interactive sessions and panel discussions while building connections with peers.

"Strength lies in community, collaboration and confidence,” shares Ellen Walker-Matthews, CEO at TOTA. “And that’s what we look forward to fostering at this year's event designed to connect tourism industry professionals. The Summit is an opportunity to come together, discuss our challenges, share insights, and collectively work towards a prepared, sustainable and prosperous future for tourism in the region.”

TOTA’s Tourism Summit & AGM includes an evening welcome reception, and a morning AGM followed by a full day of speakers and panels.

Welcome Reception

Date: Monday, October 23

Time: 5pm - 8pm

Location: Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence (JPCE) Bldg - Okanagan College Campus, Penticton

Reception Details:

The Summit kicks off with a popular social event hosted by Visit Penticton. Reception attendees will enjoy cuisine prepared by Okanagan College Chef, Israel Alvarez, paired with live entertainment, Naramata Bench wines and beer from Penticton Beer Blocks. In addition to networking and nibbling, attendees are encouraged to tour the highly sustainable JPCE building, and explore the exhibitor hall filled with local food and beverage suppliers and… prizes!

Full-Day Session

Date: Tuesday, October 24

Time: 9pm - 5pm

Location: Penticton Lakeside Resort

Morning Session

Destination British Columbia

Hear from Destination BC Maya Lange, Vice President, Global Marketing, Destination BC and Ali Mckay, Vice President, Destination Stewardship, Destination BC on their new corporate strategy, the upcoming Iconics rollout as well as their insights from the past year on crisis communications and recovery. Destination BC works closely with the regions and impacted communities to provide timely, accurate information and develop campaigns and strategies that encourage travel when it is safe to do so. They are also one of the most valuable platforms to push out accurate information to visitors coming to the province or who are already here.

Featured Panels

Emergency Management, Planning, and Preparedness

After a year filled with a broad range of challenges, now is the time to recognize the region’s ability to adapt and grow. Join panellists Wendy Magnes, Director, Province of BC, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport; Ingrid Jarrett, President & CEO, BC Hotel Association (BCHA); Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC); Garnet Mierau, Director, Forest Professionals of BC; Mathieu-Bourbonnais, PHD Candidate, University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Regional Transportation Challenges and Opportunities

In tandem with climate change and its resulting natural disasters, transportation remains one of the region’s most critical issues - for tourism and far beyond. Visitors’ safe and consistent passage in and out of the region is vital, and an issue that has come into stark reality during recent years. Panellists include Peter Truch, Principal Professional Mobility Engineer, Independent Global Consultant; Gordon Lovegrove, Associate Professor, UBCO School of Engineering, University of British Columbia Okanagan; Steve Sirett, Executive Director, Southern Interior Region, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; Johnathan Richardson, Vice President, Customer & Commercial, Pacific Coastal Airlines.

Closing Keynote

The increasing impacts of climate change have greatly impacted the future of tourism in our region and far beyond. Now is the time to listen, learn and act to ensure its prosperity for generations to come. Hear from Kelly Galaski, Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Travel Foundation, on how global destinations are working towards climate-positive and equitable tourism goals and TOTA stakeholders can follow suit via destination stewardship strategies and capacity building programs.

TOTA’s Summit and AGM is open to all tourism stakeholders in the region and province in roles of: tourism and hospitality leaders, executives, team members, sustainability coordinators, government, not-for-profit organizations, students, and anyone with an interest in sustainable tourism development.

View the full schedule, register and learn more at

Tickets are $99 +GST.

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About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a not-for-profit society that represents a geographic area nestled in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. The region’s name is derived from two major geographic features: the Thompson River and Okanagan Lake. TOTA plays a support, leadership and growth role in the tourism industry for this region. It aims to stimulate ongoing sustainable growth by embracing the value of tourism through community engagement, innovative leadership in promoting authentic experiences, and inspiring creative collaboration. Key TOTA initiatives include: Biosphere Certified Gold Destination, 7 Generations Pledge, and Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.

For more information about TOTA visit, or visit the consumer facing website Connect socially on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram at @Thompson_Okanagan

Media Contact:

Krista Lochhead



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