Tourism’s Vital Role In Downtown Business Recovery

August 8, 2023
Paul Nursey


VICTORIA – A few days ago, the world’s largest association of destination organizations kicked off its annual convention in Texas by presenting Destination Greater Victoria (DGV) with the Destination Organization Award for Global Impact. The award is especially significant as Destinations International’s membership is made up of 600+ organizations who compete with DGV every day to attract visitors. And while the award recognizes the significant contributions DGV has made to the travel and tourism industry worldwide, our team is especially proud of the impact we are having on Greater Victoria, and in particular, on downtown Victoria and the businesses that call it home.

Prior to COVID, downtown streets would be bustling with area workers shopping or socializing at local businesses during their lunch hour or after work. Joining them would be tourists whose spending would be the icing on the cake in terms of local business revenue. Our post-pandemic world looks much different.

With public and private sector employees increasingly working from home, downtown businesses have needed to replace thousands of customers just to survive. Thankfully, that’s where tourism comes in. Throughout the pandemic, DGV focused on a post-pandemic strategy that saw our visitor economy rebound faster than most places in the world once travel restrictions were relaxed.

Today, every leisure traveller, conference delegate and cruise passenger is more important than ever. To attract them, we’re using our expertise in research, marketing, and sales to generate more visitors through sport tourism, meetings and conferences, and leisure travel. The convention market is especially competitive but worth the effort as convention delegates spend four times as much as leisure travellers when they visit Victoria. Positive experiences by business travellers typically lead to increased recommendations and future visits for leisure purposes, further driving growth in the tourism industry.

As peak season progresses, the tourism sector has financially recovered from the pandemic to the extent where, as The Bay Centre’s GM, Darlene Hollstein, recently noted, “For downtown businesses, tourism isn’t the icing on the cake anymore, it is the cake.”

As we address the social issues that we, like all cities, face, let’s actively promote our destination, its unique offerings and the many positive aspects of our downtown. Let’s support the downtown businesses that support our tourism sector. Together, we can address the challenges facing our community while doing our part to help downtown remain a welcoming and safe destination for visitors and locals alike.

Paul Nursey is the President and CEO of Destination Greater Victoria

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