Spring breakers are flocking to Vancouver Island. This year, as restrictions reduce, many businesses in the Capital Regional District are seeing a spike in tourists.
“I feel like this week there’s been a lot more foot traffic. Sales have also been up as well, but you see more families siphoning through,” said Kirsten Olson, who works at Amelia Lee Boutique on Yates Street.
And the spring breakers are a welcome boost for many businesses that have struggled to survive through the pandemic.
“Our hotels are reporting that they’re busy, restaurants, whale watching even. And we’re just grateful for the business as we continue to recover,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.
The common denominator in this wave of tourists? Most are from B.C.
“I spoke to some people that were from the Okanagan, definitely people that were from Vancouver,” said Olson.
March is still technically shoulder season for tourism in the capital region, but businesses are getting ready for a strong summer, especially with visitors from the United States.
“We’re starting to increasingly see U.S. visitors and of course, we expect to see that change when the rapid antigen tests drop April 1,” said Nursey.
But those coming from the Lower Mainland may want to fly instead of ferry over. BC Ferries is warning that a crew shortage could lead to service interruptions and isolated sailing cancellations during peak summer travel.
“BC Ferries’ goal is to avoid service disruptions wherever it can; to communicate service disruptions as soon as they become known; and to minimize the impact these disruptions have on the travelling public,” the company said in a statement.
“Customers are encouraged to finalize travel plans on bookable routes by booking ahead.”
But regardless of the delays, spring break 2022 is ushering in what’s expected to be a busy summer tourist season.
“Our forelooking data for the next 120 days is close to 2019,” said Nursey.