(Victoria Buzz)

The capital region’s visitor economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic faster than anticipated, as hotel occupancy reaches 123% year over year.

So says Destination Greater Victoria, as it points to latest data analyzing local hotel bookings from the first quarter of the year through to July 2022.

“Forward-looking hotel booking data for the next 120 days also suggests hotel booking pace is returning to close to 2019 levels,” the not-for-profit said Wednesday.

Destination GV chair Darlene Hollstein says it’s been an “unusually busy” spring season—and she and her colleagues couldn’t be happier.

“The last two years have been extremely challenging for all of us in the visitor economy. We are delighted to see vibrancy return to the destination, and increased revenue for important business segments,” said Hollstein.

The latest data finds several drivers play a major factor, including pent-up demand for travel and a backlog of events, plus the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Greater Victoria hoteliers are excited to welcome back travellers,” said Hotel Association of Greater Victoria chair Bill Lewis.

According to Destination GV, it’s only up from here.

That’s because last fall, the City of Victoria approved two new downtown hotels, which will be located in the 1300-block of Broad Street and at Fort and Blanshard Streets.

There are also two hotels in the planning stage at Pandora and Government Streets, and on Blanshard Street between Fairfield Road and Burdett Avenue, as well as experiential attraction investments like a new wellness spa at Ship Point. 

SEE ALSO: Floating Nordic spa eyed for Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Destination GV says numerous transportation services that were reduced or shut down during the pandemic are returning in the coming weeks, helping to bump up the visitor economy even more.

The Seattle-Victoria Kenmore Air flight service is restarting on April 1st, while cruise ships and the Seattle-Victoria Clipper V passenger ferry will start sailing on April 6th and April 15th, respectively.

“It is great to see many of our transportation partners getting back to business, including Victoria Clipper and Blackball Ferry, as well as the increasing volumes at Victoria International Airport,” added Lewis.

In fact, Victoria Airport Authority passenger numbers continue to build, as staff see 60-70% of 2019 numbers and a 300% increase year-over-year.

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However, there’s still some uncertainty of full Greater Victoria visitor economy recovery due to challenges like significant debt loads incurred during the pandemic, tight labour market conditions, and inflationary pressures.

But given the recent influx of visitors, Destination GV says it’s “confident” the local visitor economy will fully recuperate before 2026. 

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