Victoria tourism looks for a boost
Peninsula Daily News
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But they're optimistic that 2013 visitor numbers will increase about 1.5 percent over 2012's lackluster turnout.
And many visitor-oriented businesses and destinations are putting their money where their collective mouth is the first weekend in March.
An ambitious promotion by Tourism Victoria has organized a series of free and deeply discounted attractions and events — ranging from free MV Coho ferry tours to free entry to The Butchart Gardens — through a $10-per-person coupon booklet that's good between Feb. 28 and March 3.
The promotion is geared toward Victoria-area residents and is dubbed “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown.”
At Necessities and Temptations in PA
But the effort is extended to North Olympic Peninsula residents, who can purchase coupon booklets at Necessities and Temptations department store and gift shop across from the Coho landing at Laurel Street and Railroad Avenue in downtown Port Angeles.
The list of 56 participating attractions, restaurants, lodgings and shops — a veritable who's who and what's what for the Victoria visitor — can be found at www.attractionsvictoria.com.
Also listed are the Victoria-area locations where ticket books can be purchased for $10 per person or $40 for five.
And the booklets also can be bought online.
“Be a Tourist” is one of several efforts planned by Victoria tourism beneficiaries to boost visitor counts, several representatives said at a news conference in the provincial capital Tuesday.
They came together on the heels of a Canadian Chamber of Commerce report that listed its “top 10 barriers to competitiveness.”
“Canada has slipped from seventh to 18th place among the world's tourism destinations in less than a decade,” said Tourism Victoria CEO Rob Gialloreto.
“We've got a great product throughout the greater Victoria region, but we just can't access it as seamlessly as we want to for our tourists,” he said, joining the call for better regular visitor transportation to attractions and scenic spots.
“A lot of our tourists come here, they're in the Inner Harbour, they might take a bus trip to Butchart Gardens, they walk around, and they leave — when they should be spending four or five days here.
“There's just totally enough stuff to do in the capital region.
But we need to have the transportation infrastructure in place — and we don't.”
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter said a lack of stable, long-term tourism marketing funding from both the provincial and federal government is hampering the industry.
He put revenues from Victoria-area tourism at about $1 billion annually.
Although neither Carter nor Gialloreto would discuss specifics on where they think the money ought to be spent, the companies that transport tourists to Victoria's Inner Harbour said the answer is clear.
“Given 75 percent of our visitors used to come from the U.S., it would seem opportune to focus on those near markets,” said Ryan Malane, director of marketing for Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the Coho.
What was 75 percent is now closer to 55 percent, according to figures from Tourism Victoria.
But Malane said there has been some increase in the past year because companies like Clipper Navigation Inc., which operates a passenger ferry between Victoria and Seattle, and Black Ball have increased their own marketing efforts.
Regional near markets
“We are concentrating on what we consider the lowest-hanging fruit: the regional near markets,” Malane told the news conference.
Black Ball is one of the participants in the upcoming “Be a Tourist” promotion by offering free tours of the Coho in Victoria at 10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Feb. 28.
Reporter Daniel Palmer of the Victoria News contributed to this report.
Last modified: February 15. 2013 8:19AM