This morning at the Belleville Terminal, families were reunited after not seeing each other since the start of the pandemic.
Marlene Lavellee welcomed her son Paul and daughter-in-law Lee Ann Mangin, off the Victoria Clipper.
“I haven’t seen them, it will be two years at Christmas time,” says Marlene. Adding, “I’m really excited, all of our family we’re all vaccinated, all our relatives and friends so we’re going to have a great time together cause we’re all safe.”
“It’s amazing, it’s much better than Zoom,” says Paul.
Paul and Lee Ann were two of the 84 passengers who arrived on the Clipper, making its grand entrance into Victoria’s Inner Harbour for the first time since March 2020.
“Shutting down this service for an extended period was incredibly difficult,” says David Gudgel, CEO of the FRS Clipper. “We look forward to playing a major part in the visitor economies of both Seattle and Victoria again,” he adds.
Escorted by water taxis, a fireboat, and the coast guard, the Clipper’s arrival is a sign of hope and that our region is heading towards economic recovery.
“It’s putting people back to work, it’s moving people from Washington State directly into our beautiful downtown,” says Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps. “This is a vital link with our neighbours to the south and it’s really been missed here during the pandemic,” she adds.
The service is resuming between the cities on a four-day weekend schedule and will give a little boost to local businesses heading into the shoulder season.
“We did okay with domestic travel but we’re on an island, we need ferries to get here, we need American visitors to get here and this is a start,” says Paul Nursey, the President and CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.
Nursey also mentioning the Capital hosts about a million overnight visitors a year and almost half of those are from Washington State.
“American travellers spend about 150 to 300 per cent more, do more things, stay longer typically, so the economic impact is wider and deeper,” adds Nursey.
This morning at the Belleville Terminal, staff were back at work and family and friends were reunited. It’s a sight people in Victoria will be seeing more of in the weeks ahead.