PORT ANGELES — Canadians continue to pour money into Port Angeles’ economy, Black Ball Ferry Line co-owner Ryan Malane said Tuesday.
In a 30-minute presentation at the Port Angeles Business Association breakfast meeting, Malane said 25 percent to 35 percent of all hotel stays in the Port Angeles area are due to Coho ferry traffic.
Black Ball Ferry’s MV Coho is in its 60th year carrying passengers on the Port Angeles-Victoria and Victoria-Port Angeles runs.
The ferry transported 475,000 passengers in 2018, Malane said.
Passengers annually spend $15 million on shopping, $10.9 million on accommodations, $10.4 million on food and beverages and $5.5 million in fuel and non-Coho transportation, according to totals that Malane said were updated from a study conducted for Black Ball by University of Victoria Professor Brock Smith.
Promotions include developing “The Loop” from Seattle through Jefferson and Clallam counties to Victoria and Vancouver Island — and back to Seattle.
Malane told the PABA that promotions include special one-way rental car rates with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and transportation arrangements with Amtrak, Clallam Transit’s Strait Shot bus service, Greyhound Lines’ Dungeness Line bus service, Washington State Ferries and Harbour Air Seaplanes.
Malane said Canadian campaigns under the “Get Off the Rock” marketing umbrella include thousands of Port Angeles beer tours, more than 3,000 hotel-room nights, 800 tours of Olympic National Park, more than 10,000 festival participants including The Dungeness Crab & Seafood, Lavender and Juan de Fuca festivals, and more than $3 million in direct spending in Port Angeles.
Canadian events include Esquimalt Ribfest benefits for Captain Joseph House and a June 2 game between the Port Angeles Lefties collegiate level team and a team of Cuban baseball players that is not the Cuban national team.
Malae said he is expecting Victoria traffic in the April 2019-April 2020 fiscal year to be similar, if not slightly up, compared to to 2018-2019’s robust year.
Black Ball’s MV Coho ferry is the last privately owned, U.S.-flagged ferry in international service, to 30 attendees of the Port Angeles Business Association’s weekly breakfast meeting.
“Most tourism entities [are] predicting a flat year or a decrease in traffic,” Malane said in his presentation, adding later that he was referring to Victoria.
“We remain optimistic!”
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but we are forecasting flat to 2 [percent] growth for the 2019-2020 season,” he said in an email on Coho ferry activity.
“Many organizations and hotels we talk to in Victoria are forecasting a flat or even slightly down season, mostly due to fewer big meetings and events.
“However, the summer still looks strong this year.”
The forecast for Victoria, he said later, was “general and anecdotal.”
Matt Holme, manager for corporate communications and destination management for Destination Greater Victoria, the region’s tourism marketing organization, said Victoria tourism totals are expected to be similar to 2018.
“We’re expecting it to plateau,” Holme said. “We’re still expecting a strong year.”
Malane said he is very encouraged by increased cruise ship business in Port Angeles that is served by Black Ball’s nine newly acquired group-tour buses.
They make dedicated to visits to Olympic Game Farm and eight others that include visits to Fort Worden, Lake Crescent, Madison Falls, the Sequim Audubon Center and Sequim lavender farms.
“We want to get people interested in doing something here when they get here,” he told the PABA.
“What we are trying to get across is that we want people to come up our route, and by and large it is working.
“That means they are spending money here.”
Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, who was at the meeting, said later he expects hotel rooms to be full this summer in Port Angeles, with little change from last year judging by a rough estimate of requests for tourist information packets.
“Our focus is going to be getting people here in the wintertime,” Abshire added.
“We don’t really need the growth in the summer.
“We’re already near capacity from a hotel-room standpoint.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].