A new report shows tourism numbers down, while warning of future declines.
The report from Victoria-based Chemistry Consulting shows the local hotel occupancy rate dropped six per cent to 83.79 per cent in June 2019, compared to June 2018. The number of passengers travelling to Victoria by way of BC Ferries (638,811) and Victoria International Airport (171,848) also dropped by just under one per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively in June 2019, compared to June 2018. Statistics show a notable drop in the number of delegate days, dropping more than 36 per cent to 11,809. The number of cruise ship passengers (145,557) and crew (59,727) rose by 2.48 and 4.69 per cent.
The report also notes that the Victoria’s tourism sector is showing “some signs of a slow-down” as the industry feels the impact of several factors, including “uncertainty in the Canadian and U.S. economies, a softening of bus tour business, as well as the fallout from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max airplanes.”
Paul Nursey, chief executive officer of Destination Greater Victoria, acknowledged the numbers, but also qualified them.
“The June numbers are certainly behind the 2018 numbers in most categories,” he said. “However, it is important to note the Greater Victoria’s visitor economy experienced six years of growth prior to this year. Most key tourism indicators in 2019 are still head of 2017 numbers, which was considered a strong year.”
As for the reasons behind the slowdown, Nursey agrees with Chemistry Consulting. “Overall, the tourism economy is closely aligned with economic conditions, with consumer confidence being especially important,” he said.
As for the warning of worse days to come, Nursey said the tourism business is cyclical. “We have seen six consecutive years of growth, so we were expecting some modest pull-back in 2019 and this is what we are seeing,” he said. “We always need to be vigilant and work hard on behalf of our members. Our strategic plan is in place to smooth out potential peaks and valleys in tourism indicators. In recent years we have added more conference business and off-peak season business to ensure we have a resilient visitor economy.”
Ultimately, Nursey said the long-term fundamentals favour Victoria.
“We remain positive on the long-term prospects of the Greater Victoria visitor economy,” he said. “We have some exciting conferences and sporting events in the coming years, and our member-businesses are world class. We expect Greater Victoria to be a highly-desirable place to visit in future years.”