Rhoda’s volunteers praised for their work

Rhoda’s volunteers praised for their work

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The Oliver Tourism Association (OTA) is sowing many seeds in hopes the community will reap many benefits next year and beyond.
That was the gist of a recent members’ meeting at the Oliver Visitor Centre.
Much praise was heaped on manager Rhoda Brooks and her team of volunteers including Pat Wessel, Lynne Friesen, Roberta Dodge, Leslie Marriot, Mary Doyle, Penny Turcotte, Christine Work, Trude Doepker, Norma Mason, Pat Buckland, Gerry Davidson, Jim Cade, Al Cade, Herb Cline, Judy Pagett and Pat Street.
“The visitor centre could not operate without Rhoda and her fabulous volunteers . . . they do a really great job of selling your business,” said OTA chair Beth Garrish.
She noted OTA has been working on expanding the Wine Capital of Canada brand with four new promotional banners that are available to OTA members to use at conferences and events.
Garrish said OTA was a title sponsor of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association’s annual Banee Pig Out and annual Half-Corked Marathon. It was also a partner sponsor of the Festival of the Grape.
Tony Munday, vice-chair of OTA, brought members up to date on the Wine Capital of Canada website. He noted there were 9,729 visits to the website this summer, which represents a 28 per cent increase from last summer (7,037 visits).
Munday said more visitors are finding Oliver through OTA’s search engine optimization. Search traffic was 70 per cent this summer, compared to 47 per cent last summer.
Munday noted the festivals and events page is one of the website’s most visited pages. It is free for members and stakeholders to have their event listed with a link to the website.
Garrish said they created 16 group (event) packages that reached 1,994 individual participants in 2012. These packages consisted of wine and accommodation information and local attractions.
Munday said the Wine Capital of Canada Facebook presence was greatly increased this year. There are currently 355 fans, and by interacting with them, there is a weekly reach of more than 1,000 people who see information about Oliver. Munday noted 65 per cent of the fans are female.
On Twitter, they have 533 followers and growing, Munday pointed out.
The vice-chair promoted the Wine Capital geocaching campaign, in which people locate hidden containers using GPS devices. OTA currently manages 13 geocaches on private and Town property. To date there have been 176 finds by visitors from all over the world, Munday said.
Geocaches are hidden in Lions Park, the visitor centre, Hester Creek, Pine Bluff Motel and Meyer Family Vineyards.
Got the travel bug? With each geocache OTA has placed a “travel bug” that is able to be tracked. Munday noted their travel bugs have travelled a combined total of 15,540 kilometres; that’s 39 per cent of the circumference of the earth. He stated one travel bug is awaiting a flight to Hawaii.
Garrish said the latest event OTA is planning is the second annual Rose Revolution at Miradoro Restaurant on November 14.
This summer the visitor centre saw 4,272 parties, totaling 8,869 visitors. Nearly 42 per cent consisted of BC residents, while 23 per cent were local residents. Nearly 12 per cent came from Alberta.
From October 10-19, visitors came from Switzerland, Mexico, Korea and Guatemala.
Compared to the summer of 2011, the visitor centre saw a drop of nearly 12 per cent. Last summer there were 4,838 visitors.
According to OTA, all of BC has experienced an eight per cent decrease in visitors, while the Vancouver coast and mountain region saw a decrease of 11 per cent.
The Oliver Visitor Centre has a new retail (gift shop) program, including merchandise and clothing. People can now get their own “Oliver” T-shirt and hoodie.
From launch (July 25) to October 3, the shop has made $3,657 in sales.

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