Published On: Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Victoria's Tourism Industry Rebounds Strongly to Ring Out 2017

Victoria's Tourism Industry Rebounds Strongly to Ring Out 2017

- Paul Nursey is the President and CEO of Tourism Victoria.

GREATER VICTORIA - After three strong years of impressive growth, there were high expectations for the tourism industry entering 2017. Then a winter that refused to go quietly, coupled with a cascade of profound political shifts in Europe and the U.S. seemed to dampen the enthusiasm for travel across the globe in Q1.

For a moment, our industry wondered if it was time to check our irrepressible optimism. We held our breath as the numbers started coming in for late spring and early summer. Things were looking good. By fall it was clear that 2017 was not only going to be another terrific year, but we were once again exceeding expectations.

By the time 2017’s final statistics are calculated, we will be very close to surpassing 2016 in terms of Victoria hotels’ Average Daily Room Rate, Revenue per Available Room, passengers aboard BC Ferries and arrivals at Victoria International Airport. With strong conference numbers in October and November, 2017 will be another year of growth.

As an industry, we adjusted our outlook, but stuck to our strategy. After all, we have been through headwinds before — the first decade of the 21st century saw great upheaval in our industry due to the uncertainty created by 9/11 and the 2008 economic crisis.

Speaking to major tourism businesses in Greater Victoria, we have a clear direction on where the work ahead lies.

Dave Cowan, CEO of The Butchart Gardens and past chair of Tourism Victoria, echoes the experience we are seeing throughout Greater Victoria, “Due to the late spring and summer performance of key markets like the U.S., Asia, Europe, Australia and the cruise industry, The Gardens’ attendance is now easily outpacing 2016.

Going forward, Greater Victoria’s tourism success will be driven by strategic regional partnerships that leverage opportunities in long-haul markets and build faithful customer connections in the Pacific Northwest. With this regional strategy our destination will always have a strong source of visitors to even out the ups and downs of global tourism.”

Over at the Wilson’s Group, President and CEO John Wilson says he has the confidence to make major investments in Greater Victoria because the fundamentals are in place.

“This summer, The Wilson’s Group of Companies continued to see growth in the areas of charter bus sales as well as our BC Ferries Connector, YYJ Airport Shuttle and Grayline Sightseeing products. The airport shuttle saw a record month in June and our Hop On Hop Off and City Tours also saw records in both July and August. Seeing this continued growth gives us the confidence to further invest in new equipment, infrastructure and staffing resulting in travellers having the very best possible experience while visiting our destination.”

At Tourism Victoria, we’re delighted that our destination successfully weathered these Q1 headwinds. However, we’re far from satisfied. Much more work needs to be done to extend our visitor season by building business on the books in non-traditional months and helping host major events as well as standing up for long-term sustainability of our industry.