A trio of cruise ships sit in port at Ogden Point on a weekend evening. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

A trio of cruise ships sit in port at Ogden Point on a weekend evening. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Victoria sees record tourism season

The last cruise ship for 2018 arrives on Oct. 14

The chill in the air and the leaves on the ground are all signs that autumn is upon us, but for Victorians this time of the year signifies more than the end of summer beach days; it also means it’s almost the end of the tourism season.

It’s been a busy year for the tourism industry and everyone from hotels to cruise ships saw a jump in business.

For the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) this meant welcoming their largest-ever cruise ship to the city, the Norwegian Bliss, which brought nearly 6,000 passengers and crew members to our shores every Friday.

“We’ve had more than 600,000 passengers this year and 245 ship calls,” said GVHA chief operating officer, Sonterra Ross. “This is our record year, looking ahead into 2019 those numbers will grow.”

A $7 million renovation to Pier B at Ogden Point will allow an even larger cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas to come in next spring and bring in over 7,000 passengers and crew members.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria Harbour Authority putting $7 million into pier investments

The GVHA is also planning ahead for the next 30 years, aiming to restructure Ogden Point with their Ogden Point Master Plan, which aims to offer more parking space, restaurants, 63,000 square feet of office space, a brewpub and a First Nations Cultural Centre for tourists and locals alike to enjoy.

The GVHA submitted their most recent application to the City of Victoria in 2016, and at this point have released a public Request for Information looking for a development partner so that by 2019 they can put in their final application to the City.

The last cruise ship for 2018 arrives on Oct. 14.

For the Victoria International Marina, their soft launch summer has seen nearly 40 luxurious yachts moor at the new private docks, something that CEO Craig Norris said taught them a lot of lessons.

“We definitely saw some surprises in numbers… Some guests will spend $30,000-$100,000 on groceries,and could be quadruple that on drinks, so we’ve got to expand our line,” Norris said.

VIDEO: Luxurious yacht pulls up at Victoria International Marina

He added that tweaking concierge services and tourism destination options are also on the roster for the company’s official launch in 2019.

“Pier to pier; we had a great season,” Norris said. “We’ll make a number of changes and adjustments. Next year will be our grand opening in the spring, so we’re ready for that.”

The Victoria International Marina will also host a new 7,000 sq. ft. restaurant, the Boom and Batten, scheduled to open in February 2019.

Overall, Destination Greater Victoria – formerly Tourism Victoria– said the year was a hit.

READ MORE: Tourism Victoria refreshes its look with new brand

“It was another very strong year,” said CEO Paul Nursey. “We saw significant growth in conferences, and a growth in hotel room rates.”

While final numbers still need to be determined, Nursey estimates that over four million tourists visited Victoria this year, including professionals visiting the city’s blossoming conference hub.

“It goes to show our collaborative work to have one integrative conference program for the past couple of years is starting to pay off,” he said. “Conferences are booking multiple years in advance.”

While data for tourism dollars needs to be compiled by Statistics Canada, in 2016, when 3.9 million visitors came to town the industry earned $2.3 billion, so a slight increase in earnings can be expected.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

GVHAOgden Point

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Proposed $1.5-million cut would hit elementary and middle school programs

Victoria police are investigating the cause of a single-vehicle crash that sent one person to hospital early April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Single-vehicle crash topples Victoria hydro pole, sends one to hospital

Police investigating whether speed or impairment were factors

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Esquimalt High School is one of six Greater Victoria schools that reported a COVID-19 exposure over the weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Six new Greater Victoria school exposures reported over weekend

Steady rise in school exposures since return from spring break

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Most Read