By Laura Keil

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association has announced a new program that will match applicants with a tourism mentor and provide a $3,000 grant to help bring new tourism ideas to the next stage of development.

Residents from the Thompson Nicola area of the Thompson Okanagan tourism region are eligible (an area that includes Blue River and Valemount)

The Thompson Nicola area eligible for the program.

In a release, TOTA says the goal of the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is to find, foster, and support new tourism ideas, experiences, and partnerships that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for new tourism ideas to be realized in the Thompson Nicola area,” says Ellen Walker-Matthews, TOTA CEO. “The Spark program enables and encourages those with innovative tourism concepts to have the chance to see them come to life.”

Applications can be submitted from September 27 to November 4, 2022 and are encouraged from entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations based in the Thompson Nicola area including the communities of Kamloops, Sun Peaks, Valemount, Clearwater, Blue River, Merritt, Lytton, Cache Creek, Clinton, and surrounding areas. Following a review process, five finalists will be invited to a virtual Pitch Session where three winners will be selected. 

The “Spark” Program was first launched in Ontario in 2018 by the Tourism Innovation Lab and has expanded to several regions across British Columbia. The Thompson Nicola “Spark” Program is presented by Destination British Columbia in collaboration with Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), Tourism Valemount, Tourism Kamloops, Tourism Sun Peaks, Explore Gold Country, Tourism Wells Gray, and the Tourism Innovation Lab.

For more information on the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program, including eligibility and upcoming Information sessions, visit A second info webinar is being held Oct. 20th from 5-5:30pm PST.