Low loonie, campaign to boost city’s ‘hip’ reputation cited
Victoria tourism officials say the latest numbers for 2016 are in, and show Canadians staying home could push this tourist season to new records, beating marks set just last year.
“Victoria’s tourism industry is incredibly healthy and robust right now, we’re seeing great numbers,” said Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey.
The key number is average hotel occupancy, which was up to 63 per cent through March 2016, compared 59 per cent for same time period in 2015.
April figures are still pending
“2015 was a record year and if everything goes right for 2016 we’ll hopefully see this momentum continue, and I don’t want to predict it just yet because April is a little early to call it, but we could reach back into record territory in terms of hotel room occupancy in 2016,” said Nursey.
Nursey credited a few factors, including recent investments in hotel and transportation infrastructure. But the sagging loonie and efforts to boost Victoria’s brand as a ‘hip’ destination are also helping, he says, especially for domestic visits.
“Canadians are very currency exchange rate sensitive, and so that helps create that well of demand that’s supporting our whole industry right now.”
Tourism Victoria partnered with Destination BC and the Magnolia Hotel to bring travel writers to town on a junket that focused on the city’s cooler new attractions and restaurants earlier this spring, efforts that paid off with coverage in Vogue Magazine and the Toronto Star.
While Nursey says it’s still early to know if revenue records will fall again this year, study is also underway to see how the tourism sector’s total economic contribution to the region has grown since the last time it was measured at just under $2 billion in 2011.