The Vernon Visitor Information Centre’s operating contract expires Thursday, April 30, and will not be renewed for the time being. (Google photo)

The Vernon Visitor Information Centre’s operating contract expires Thursday, April 30, and will not be renewed for the time being. (Google photo)

One Okanagan visitor’s centre contract not renewed

Temporary closure expands; no staff available as of May 1; requests for proposals cancelled

The temporary closure of Vernon’s Visitor Information Centre will be extended with no staff to help.

The centre off 39th Avenue was shut down temporarily April 3 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the centre’s staff was still available remotely by phone or email to answer questions.

The contract with the company operating the centre, Durning Directions, expires Thursday, April 30, and will not be renewed as the city reviews its tourism function.

“We were in the midst of requests for proposals but we’ve cancelled that,” said Kevin Poole, City of Vernon manager of economic development and tourism.

The city’s tourism function is mostly funded through the hotel tax, at approximately 80 per cent of the budget. Vernon will receive a cheque at some point in 2020 for January and February, and a few dates in March, but it’s not enough to sustain the centre as hotels and accommodators suffer through the crisis with no guests to house.

“We usually receive $1.1 million in hotel tax revenue,” said Poole. “Because of provincial regulations and changes, we might not see a cheque this year until November. It’s going to be a tough year for tourism.”

Durning Directions had operated the visitor centre for 11 consecutive years. The expiration of the contract affects six staff members and five volunteers.

“It’s quite sad for us, and quite sad for the city,” said Teresa Durning, owner/operator of Durning Directions. “It was an amazing run and an amazing relationship with the city. COVID affects people’s movements. It’s a tough go. Tough on many levels.”

Poole has no idea what tourism will look like when life returns to some semblance of normal.

“How do we move forward when things look to reopen,?” he asked. “What’s it going to look like?”

Should the city call again for requests for proposals to operate the visitor centre, Durning would reapply as “my heart is in this community.”

“I hope we look back at the challenges (when crisis is over) and not remember the tough times but the resilience we showed to get through this together,” she said.

READ MORE: Tourism aims to put Vernon in travel spotlight

READ MORE: Program builds Okanagan tourism resiliency amid COVID-19



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is seeking input for parks master plan. (Contributed)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen seeks input about parks

Community and resident feedback will be used for Parks, Trails and Recreation Master Plan

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will hold its volunteer Pitch-In event April 22 to 24. (Black Press file photo)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to hold Pitch-In event

Event planned for April 22 to 24 coincides with National Volunteer Week

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Hikers are still able to climb to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, but the paved road to the upper parking lot will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon and all day on Sundays. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland park partially closed to vehicle traffic

Giant’s Head Mountain Park gates will be closed to cars until noon

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Young cyclists from Quebec have not been riding single file on Naramata’s narrow and windy roads, causing the ire of locals worried for their safety and theirs. (Dan Moskaluk)
Quebec cyclists bad road behaviour causing stir in Penticton

The young cycling group illegally riding two-abreast on Naramata’s narrow roads

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

Most Read