WATCH: All the sunshine and warm weather means Victoria tourism is booming after an unexpected spring slowdown. Tess van Straaten reports.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is packed with race boats and the docks are buzzing with excitement for Swiftsure.
“There’s lots of boats and with the sunshine, there’s just people walking around everywhere,” American Swiftsure participant Wim Bonner said.
The world-famous Swiftsure International Yacht Race always draws lots of Americans to the B.C. Capital over their Memorial Day long weekend and this year’s no different.
“The energy at the docks, everyone is really excited,” Heather Minnella, who came up from the Seattle area to take part in her first Swiftsure, said. “It feels like we’re in Mexico or something and with the weather everyone is super happy.”
The beautiful May weather is drawing in lots of tourists ? a stark contrast to the Island’s gloomy spring, which resulted in a tourism dip.
“It was definitely a slower spring with the horrid weather we had that had a negative effect,” says Chris Hamel of the Victoria Pedicab Company.
Hamel says business was down about 30 per cent in March and April but he says it’s turning around and he’s seeing a lot more Americans heading this way.
“They’re definitely coming in bigger numbers,” Hamel said. “We’re back to being the Mexico of the North so it’s good and the weather’s great once again.”
And things are only expected to get busier.
Officials say the summer tourism season is on track to be one of the best yet.
Part of that’s due to the growing cruise sector, with more than half a million passengers each year.
Four cruise ships will dock at Ogden Point Friday and four more on Saturday, bringing thousands of visitors.
But despite another banner year for cruise travel, tourism officials say 2016 will be hard to beat for overall visitor numbers.
“I think it’s unlikely we’ll do better than last year,” Paul Nursey of Tourism Victoria said.
“We had some really significant things happen like a royal visit that were unplanned and Vancouver’s not having the strongest conference year in 2017, which means we won’t see that spillover.”