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Guided tour charter company hopes to transport thousands of tourists across South Okanagan
The owners of a popular Osoyoos bus shuttle service that has conducted wine tours for thousands of locals and tourists over the past four years have partnered with one of B.C.’s largest tour and charter companies.
The result is that Mike and Holly Plante, the owners of Unveil Shuttles, have aligned forces with Vancouver-based Landsea Tours and Adventures to form a company called Landsea Okanagan Tours and Charters.
The vision behind this new partnership is to open up transportation throughout the Okanagan Valley, making it easy for tourists and residents to book charters and tours, said Mike Plante, who founded Unveil Shuttles with his wife back in 2010.
Plante has been a member of Town of Osoyoos council since being elected in the fall of 2011. His wife is the past president of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce.
Landsea Tours and Adventures has been in operation since 1985 in the Lower Mainland and has been conducting daily scheduled tours to Victoria, Whistler, North Shore and Vancouver since that time.
Kevin Pearce, the president of the company, has been involved for the past 11 years. He has been working with the Plantes on securing this new business adventure for almost a full year.
Pearce and Plante were on hand Friday to officially open their new welcome centre, located in a storefront office in the Watermark Beach Resort.
Landsea Okanagan is now offering daily scheduled tours seven days a week to all points between Kelowna and Osoyoos, said Plante.
Because Unveil Shuttles was doing so well, Plante said he had been looking at opportunities for expansion and things took off after meeting Pearce in Osoyoos last year.
“As a business owner, I was thinking about growth and things sort of fell together after I met Kevin and we started talking,” he said. “Our visions aligned in that be believe the South Okanagan can be one of the primary tourist destinations in the province and all of Canada for that matter.
“Landsea had more than 65,000 customers on their buses last year alone … and our job now is to get as many of those 65,000 or more people deciding to come to the South Okanagan to enjoy everything we have to offer.”
The Landsea fleet that will operate out of the Osoyoos office will include two 24-seat buses, an SUV, Mercedes Benz Sprinter van and two smaller mini-coaches. The plan is to offer any and all services to groups of people who want to engage is any activity that is offered between Osoyoos and Oliver, said Plante. This will include transporting customers to weddings, wine tours, golfing excursions, shopping expeditions, trips to airports in Penticton and Kelowna and more, he said.
The bus operators who will serve customers will do much more than drive as they will all be trained to gather information about the history of the various towns and cities and their main tourist attractions and relay that information to customers, said Plante.
Pearce said he has been visiting and vacationing in Osoyoos for more than 10 years because he thoroughly enjoys the community.
Pearce bought a home and has spent much of his time over the past several months determining if Osoyoos would be the ideal spot to expand his business.
“I actually went undercover for about three months last summer and stayed quiet while visiting wineries, going on wine tours and attending numerous events to get a feel about the level of service and opportunities for my business to expand in this area,” he said. “I was so impressed, I decided to make Osoyoos our first geographical expansion for the business.
The plan is to open another branch office in Kelowna in the spring or summer of 2015 and a second office in Penticton the following year, he said.