VICTORIA – Greater Victoria is synonymous with nature and natural beauty. Visitors are drawn by our west coast wilderness, our beaches, trails and notably, our wildlife.
In late May each year, the tourism industry comes together to celebrate Tourism Week. Tourism Week is an opportunity to promote the tourism industry before the traditional high season, when our hotels, restaurants and attractions see an uptick in business. It is also a chance to reflect on successes in the past 12 months, as well as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
One of the iconic species of coastal British Columbia are killer whales and specifically, Southern Resident Killer Whales. Southern Resident Killer Whales frequent the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea. They are critically endangered, with a population of approximately 76 individuals. They also feed primarily on Chinook salmon.
It is not only Greater Victoria visitors that are passionate about whale conservation, but residents as well.
Last year, Destination Greater Victoria became a partner in the Southern Vancouver Island Anglers’ Coalition’s Sooke Net Pen Project by donating $10,000 to this worthy cause. The Sooke Net Pen Project rears juvenile Chinook salmon to increase their numbers. Once the fish mature, they are released into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to feed Southern Resident Killer Whales. Destination Greater Victoria was pleased to donate $10,000 to the Sooke Net Pen Project again this year.
As any visitor to Greater Victoria knows, the natural setting is an attraction, but it is not the only attraction. We have world-class hotels, fine dining and some of the best weather in Canada. Our visitation numbers in 2018 reflect our hard work in promoting the diverse tourism product offerings in Greater Victoria. Hotel occupancy and revenue per available hotel room were up over 2017 numbers. The same is true for BC Ferries traffic and Victoria International Airport passenger traffic.
This year is expected to be on par with 2018. We do not expect the same growth, but we still expect a strong year. The Greater Victoria visitor economy sustains over 22,000 jobs and has an economic impact of output of $2.3 billion. A strong visitor economy is vital to a successful and healthy Greater Victoria community.
Thank you to everyone that make our visitor economy the success that is and we hope you enjoyed Tourism Week!
Paul Nursey is CEO of Destination Greater Victoria