(Victoria Carriage Tours/Facebook)

Victoria Carriage Tours are asking residents to consider being tourists in their own city, and they’re prepared to offer rides-by-donation and an exclusive discount to get them back in the saddle.

The horse-drawn carriage tour operator says that they will be offering rides in Brentwood Bay by donation every Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., from July 12 to August 2.

Additionally, the business will be offering a 20 per cent discount for locals on their 60 minute “Royal Tour” for the month of July.

Victorians champing at the bit for a socially distanced staycation activity during the COVID-19 pandemic can take advantage of the discount online at victoriacarriage.com, with the discount code ‘thankyoulocals2020’.

Locals will then have to provide ID with a local address upon arrival at their scheduled tour.

Tours operate between, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Friday to Sunday.

Tom Walker, General Manager of Victoria Carriage Tours, says that he is hoping locals will consider experiencing the Inner Harbour and “staycation” in their own city. 

“All tour operations are suffering from COVID, we want to encourage people to come down and support local businesses,” Walker says. “We wish we could offer more, but at this time it’s tough.”

Victoria Carriage Tours says that their revenue over the past two weekends has been only 6 per cent of what they saw in previous years. The business is hoping that with a boost in local traffic, they can reach 20 per cent revenue through July and August.

The company is also taking steps to ensure compliance with WorkSafe BC protocols, including adding plexiglass barriers on carriages between the driver and passengers, and sterilization of equipment between rides.

We are proud of the changes we have made to ensure both safety and comfort expectations are exceeded,” says Walker.

Victoria Carriage Tours had closed in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had sought public support through GoFundMe before reopening on June 5.

The company says they want to thank those who donated and hopes that this community discount can help return the favour.

Meanwhile, the cancelled tourist season is a horse that has already left the barn.