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Victoria's tourism numbers show signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels

Destination Greater Victoria reports that tourism business is edging toward 2019 levels.

Just over two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria’s tourism industry is showing signs of a rebound.

Based on projections for the summer, Destination Greater Victoria reports that tourism business is edging toward 2019 levels.

“We’re seeing very solid demand out of Canada and some good demand out of the United States coming back,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “International markets are a little ways off.”

According to numbers from Destination Greater Victoria, airport traffic is up 460 per cent — from 16,900 travellers in March 2021 to 94,642 in March 2022.

Conferences and weddings are contributing to the numbers, Nursey said.

“We’re always a little bit cautious given what we’ve been through,” he said. “But we’re seeing solid demand for the weeks ahead.

“I think we just have to be patient that a whole industry is gearing up again. Labour, ­supply chain … we were completely shut down. Getting going again can be clunky sometimes.”

Taste of Victoria owner and operator Andy Olson is seeing an uptick in tourists.

He said 90 per cent of bookings for his food tours, which blend local history and architecture with curated bites at Victoria restaurants, are coming from tourists.

After two years of ups and downs, Olson is happy to report bookings slightly above his 2019 numbers.

“In terms of how I’m seeing the trends in my booking platform versus previous years, it looks pretty positive,” he said. “It should be a good summer as long as everything stays fine on the public health front.”

After a brief suspension during the early days of the pandemic, Discover the Past Walking Tours is getting ready for a busy tourism season, too.

The tour ­company, best known for its downtown Ghostly Walks, offers 14 scheduled tours a week, now with an 18-person capacity.

“The overall numbers are probably lower than we would have had two or three years ago, but we’re still at capacity,” said owner and guide John Adams.

“We are now doing them every night and we find there is enough business to expand.”

Businesses at Fisherman’s Wharf are feeling positive too, said Ian Poyntz, owner of Barb’s Fish and Chips.

“Certainly, since we opened March 10, we’ve been busier than last year,” Poyntz said. “I think everyone at Fisherman’s Wharf is expecting a busy year.”

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