Welcome to Victoria sign returns, kickstarting tourism season

Welcome to Victoria sign returns, kickstarting tourism season
WatchThe Welcome to Victoria flower display is back and with it comes a sense of optimism for some businesses struggling amid the pandemic.

It’s a familiar sight to those who visit Victoria’s inner harbour — a feature that was nearly thwarted by the pandemic, but the “Welcome to Victoria” flowers are back.

And with their return comes a sense of optimism for some businesses as they prepare for what is usually the Island’s busiest time of year.

“It’s the city of gardens. It’s as simple as that. People expect to see beautiful gardens,” said Willy McCrea, who’s been planting the flowers in the flower garden for 25 years.

The iconic flower display has added colour and symbolism since 1954, showcasing Victoria as a tourism destination, but there is still some caution around who the city will be welcoming.

The province’s restart plan will eventually see people not just from B.C. but across the country, people will able to visit the island and it couldn’t come soon enough for some.

“Since March 1, 2020, we’re down 95 per cent in revenues. So, it’s been decimating. Not only to Wilson’s, but our industry, right throughout Victoria and British Columbia, and Canada. So, it’s been really, really hard,” said John Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Wilson’s Transportation.

Many businesses remain hopeful this reopening will help save the year and are already seeing business pick up.

“Calls are coming in, people are inquiring, people are booking starting in July. Yeah, it’s definitely gotten busier over the last couple of weeks since the restart plan has been announced,” said Hailey Olsen, who works for Orca Spirit Adventures.

Provincial health officials are expected to lift travel restrictions in B.C. starting June 15, but only if the vaccination numbers stay on target and cases continue to decline.

Paul Nursey, the president and chief executive officer of Destination Greater Victoria, said everyone must do their part in order for the reopening to be a success.

“We’re encouraging everyone to get vaccinated because that’s what’s going to get us out of this. Our whole sector depends on it,” he said.

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Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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