March is typically the time of year our members begin to increase operations. Spring break provides an opportunity for families to travel. The weather in Greater Victoria is inching to warmer temperatures. March 2021 is not a typical time though. The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, and the visitor economy is still struggling. Destination Greater Victoria has recalibrated its focus recently – with an emphasis on supporting the community and some of our members that need specific help.
As mentioned in a previous column, Greater Victoria Flower Count is held in late February or early March every year. The event brings the community together and is an opportunity to gently poke the rest of the country for our mild winter weather. This year, however, the focus was on healing. We wanted our message to be one of hope and rejuvenation. We want the rest of the country to know we are thinking of them at this difficult time, and that we will welcome them as visitors when the time is right. This year’s Greater Victoria Flower Count was an amazing success, and we look forward to doing it again next year.
The second way we are engaging the community is through the “I’m in! Victoria.” promotional campaign. Running for the month of March, Destination Greater Victoria is working collaboratively with the City of Victoria, Downtown Victoria Business Association, Attractions Victoria, The Hotel Association of Greater Victoria, and other stakeholders to connect tourism business to the local consumer and drive incremental revenue during a traditional shoulder season. The aim is to help businesses with cash flow during this challenging month and create a pathway for recovery in summer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not hit our members equally. Specifically, our bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and inns have had a particularly difficult time. Larger hotels have had a difficult time as well, but smaller accommodators do not have the same access to resources as their larger counterparts. Many of these properties act as the primary residence of the owner/operator; as a result, they have been unable to accept visitors into their homes, even during the limited periods when provincial travel was allowed. In the coming weeks and months, Destination Greater Victoria is supporting these small businesses with a focused and targeted promotional campaign that can help drive some incremental revenues. This will help them survive until summer 2021 when we can expect further recovery.
There are signs of hope on the horizon. The Province has signaled some restrictions could be lifted soon. Destination Greater Victoria looks forward to summer – a time when people can travel again, and we are welcoming visitors to our wonderful destination.
Paul Nursey is the President and CEO of Destination Greater Victoria