This is a Kelowna Top Forty Under 40 first.
We are profiling someone who doesn’t live in Kelowna.
However, before moving east and starting her new job at Ottawa Tourism on Sept. 1, Catherine Frechette, 39, spent 12 years at Tourism Kelowna and made quite an impact.
“It’s definitely an honour to be nominated for Kelowna Top Forty Under 40, even it I don’t live there anymore,” Frechette said with a laugh over the phone from our nation’s capital.
“It was such a privilege to work at Tourism Kelowna. When it comes to promoting a destination, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful product than Kelowna.”
Well then, what about Ottawa?
“Yes, Ottawa is very special too,” Frechette said with another laugh.
“After all, it is our nation’s capital and in 2017 it will be the place to be as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.”
When asked what the highlight was of working at Tourism Kelowna for a dozen years, Frechette didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“Getting The Amazing Race Canada to tape its premiere episode in Kelowna in 2013,” she said.
“And it was the most-watched premiere of a Canadian TV show in more than a decade.”
It all came about because of Frechette’s media savvy and a little luck.
“I was watching the season finale of the American version of The Amazing Race when it was mentioned there would be a Canadian version. I immediately Googled who the producers were and sent them the Kelowna beauty shots and suggested Kelowna be on the show and even outlined some possible challenges.”
The pitch worked.
Kelowna became the featured destination of the Canadian series premiere, and the show highlighted several challenges Frechette suggested — racing personal watercraft on Okanagan Lake and diving to the sunken Ogopogo statue to retrieve a clue, dangling over Myra Canyon to snag another clue and then pit stop at Quails’ Gate Winery.
Millions watched on CTV and Kelowna’s profile was heightened even more.
As Tourism Kelowna’s communications manager, it was Frechette’s job to court travel writers to pen glowing articles about the city as a tourist destination.
She’s particularly proud of Kelowna stories that ran in the glossy Conde Nast Traveler magazine and San Francisco Chronicle and Toronto Star newspapers.
Over the 12 years Frechette worked at Tourism Kelowna, it’s estimated she had a hand in coverage that reached 490 million people with an advertising value of more than $32 million.
She also helped Kelowna grow from a beloved “beaches and peaches” destination for British Columbians and Albertans to a sophisticated wine, culinary and recreation attraction for tourists around the world.
She secured a $100,000 grant to develop and promote Kelowna’s Farm to Table program spotlighting the city’s abundant agriculture, wine, restaurant and chef scene.
Frechette spent a lot of time working and volunteering to make the Canadian Culinary Championships held annually in Kelowna a success. She also volunteered at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 in the unaccredited media centre.
While Frechette was born in Germany, she was raised in Ottawa.
Eventually the nation’s capital and the family that lives there drew her back. Frechette and her quarter-horse, Cody, both made the move in August.