Windy, wet March sees tourists go elsewhere for spring break

A cold and damp March cooled off the tourism industry in Greater Victoria, figures released Wednesday show.

Hotel occupancy, daily room rates and revenue per available room all suffered in March as the clouds rolled into the city, according to data compiled by Chemistry Consulting.

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“It would appear that it wasn’t only the residents of Greater Victoria who were affected by our cold, wet March. As we can see from the decline in occupancy rates [compared to] 2016, the weather deterred travelers from visiting, even in a month that provides families with the opportunity to get away for spring break,” said hospitality consultant Frank Bourree. “On the bright side, year-to-date numbers are still up over last year, and anecdotal information tells us that the rest of spring and summer bookings are strong.”

In March, hotel occupancy dipped by 3.54 percentage points to 73.5 per cent versus the same month a year ago while revenue per room dropped $4.65 to $94.86.

Year to date, however, occupancy remains 1.13 per cent ahead of the first quarter of last year at 64 per cent, and revenue per room is up nearly $3 to $79.46.

The slow start to the year was also seen in B.C. Ferries traffic, with vehicle numbers on the main route between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay down 4.16 per cent through the first quarter and passenger traffic dropping six per cent.

The Victoria International Airport, however, continued its strong performance. Through the first quarter of this year, just over 421,000 passengers have travelled through its gates, a

5.6 per cent jump from the same time last year.

The Victoria Conference Centre is off to a very slow start in 2017 with its delegate days almost cut in half to 9,704 through the first quarter.

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