Linda and Mike Hunley are visiting Victoria from Idaho to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, and they like what they see.
“One impression I have of Canadians is you’re very friendly people, you know, very hospitable, very friendly and this beautiful country,” said Mike Hunley.
It was a bit quieter in the Inner Harbour Monday, but over the weekend, there was a massive influx of tourists.
More than 100 boats from around the world were here for Swiftsure, the largest yacht race of its kind on the west coast of North America. And with the United States honouring Memorial Day, it meant not just boaters but many American tourists also headed north over the weekend to check out the Island.
“What we saw over the Friday to the Monday compared to last year is a five per cent uptake in hotel room bookings for this weekend, so that’s a good sign,” said Astrid Chang with Destination Greater Victoria.
From hotels to restaurants to retail shops, the last weekend of May was bustling.
“It was pretty crazy all lines lining up every day, so it was like having a lot of people coming through, sometimes we couldn’t even go across the store, crazy busy,” said Julia Prestrelo, who works at Spirit of Victoria on Government Street.
Prestrelo said it was considerably busier in her opinion than last May, and those in the tourism sector say it makes them hopeful that they’re leaving the pandemic pain behind.
“Last summer was a good summer, and all indications are that this summer will be comparable, perhaps a bit better than summer 2022. It’s encouraging, especially as we continue to see recovery from the pandemic,” said Chang.
Some businesses aren’t just hoping that’ll be the case but are planning for it.
“There’s a lot of new hires for the store, so I think the owners are preparing for the season, the whole summer season is going to be really, really busy here in Victoria,” said Prestrelo.