British Columbians and Albertans holding Victoria tourism afloat

WatchIt's no secret the tourism industry is struggling right now – and while British Columbians have been out in droves, visiting and supporting towns in their own backyard, Albertans have also been coming to the province.

At first glance, Fisherman’s Wharf was busy on Wednesday and looking at the parking lot, the licence plates show who is coming to visit.

“As things started to open up, we saw quite a few of Albertans and the odd Saskatchewan and Manitoba plate,” said Ian Poytz, owner of Barb’s Fish & Chips.

On Wednesday, Albertan license plates are everywhere.

“We’re from High Prarie Alberta, and we’re visiting Victoria because it’s always been on our bucket list,” said one visitor.

“I’m from Edmonton and I came to see my godson Keaton and my cousin Chantel,” said another.

And local businesses in the tourism industry say those Albertan visitors may be keeping Victoria tourism afloat.

“Alberta has always considered B.C. as the backyard for them. If they want to hit the sea, they’re coming here,” said Mark Paul, Chateau Victoria’s director of sales and marketing.

“Right now, B.C. is somewhere over 80 per cent, the next biggest geographic area would be Albertans”

However, as summer winds to a close, Victoria is still seeing almost a 70 per cent loss in tourism revenue.

“The total value of the tourism industry on an annualized basis for Greater Victoria was between 2.3-2.5 billion dollars in GDP contributions, so we can apply about a 70 per cent reduction on that just to understand,” said Paul Nursey with Tourism Victoria.

“That’s billions out of the local economy.”

Tourism Victoria says operators in Victoria, are facing an extra struggle. They say, so far the 45 businesses from Victoria who have applied for federal aid, have been unapproved, Leaving companies specifically designed for international travellers like whale watching, taking the biggest hit.

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“We are asking the provincial government for a $680 million interest-free loan just to get the 19,000 export-oriented businesses in B.C. over the winter months and alive into next spring,” said Nursey.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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