Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association CEO

Glenn Mandziuk

The Okanagan will be the star on the world tourism stage in October 2020.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association won a bid to host the World Travel Awards’ North American Gala Ceremony in conjunction with the City of Vernon and Predator Ridge Golf Resort.

The awards ceremony will be held at Predator Ridge with 300 international delegates from airlines, tour operators, travel agencies, hotel chains and hospitality businesses in attendance.

As well, the awards garner lots of international media attention, so the Okanagan will be featured in stories worldwide.

This is the first time in its 27-history that the World Travel Awards will be hosted in Canada.

It’s quite a coup for the Okanagan.

Previous hosts include New York, Montego Bay, Orlando, the Bahamas, Antigua, and Turks and Caicos.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association found out it won the right to host the awards at the recent European Gala Ceremony in Madeira, Portugal.

The Okanagan has been on the World Travel Awards’ radar for some time.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association is a two-time recipient of North America’s Responsible Tourism Award, in 2018 and 2019, and was named the winner of the World’s Responsible Tourism Awards at the 25th annual World Travel Awards in Lisbon, Portugal.

“We are so honoured to bring such a prestigious event to the Thompson Okanagan and look forward to hosting international tourism industry leaders,” said association CEO Glenn Mandziuk.

“This would not have been possible without the support of our stakeholder and community partners, and it is a privilege to share our region with the world.”

Graham Cook, founder of the World Travel Awards, is anxious to visit the Okanagan.

“This fascinating region of British Columbia is leading the way in sustainable tourism practice and serving as a benchmark of how to preserve Mother Nature for the benefit of future generations,” he said.

“Thompson Okanagan is blessed with overwhelming beauty that ranges from towering waterfalls and soaring mountains to verdant valleys and glacial lakes. I look forward to welcoming the most senior decision-makers of North America’s travel industry for what promises to be a most memorable ceremony in this phenomenal region.”

Tourism Vernon plans to capitalize on the possibilities.

“As an emerging four-season tourism destination, being selected to host the World Travel Awards is an amazing opportunity for Vernon to be recognized as an attractive destination for international conferences and events,” said Tourism Vernon Commission chair Claus Larsen.

The entire region will be showcased to delegates, including the Thompson Okanagan’s four tourism cornerstones of lakes/beaches/outdoors, ski, golf and wine.

Predator Ridge is looking forward to showing off.

“We are thrilled to be host to this international gala,” said Brad Pelletier, senior vice-president of Wesbild Okanagan, owner of Predator Ridge.

“All of us who live here realize how special this region is and know we have iconic tourism assets. It will be great to host the World Travel Awards that recognize leadership in the category.”

Tourism touts itself as the Thompson Okanagan’s largest economic engine, with 3.5 million tourists coming to the regional annually and spending $2 billion.

Hot on tourism’s heels is high technology, which has an Okanagan economic impact of $1.7 billion a year.