Making Greater Victoria tourism ‘sticky’

Tourism Victoria’s Paul Nursey says communities must act as partners.

Tourism in the Greater Victoria region, says Paul Nursey, will grow and benefit many people if neighbouring communities act as partners instead of competitors.

Nursey, the president and CEO of Tourism Victoria, gave the keynote address at the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society annual general meeting on April 22. He talked to the audience at the Charlie White Theatre about opportunities available by working together for the same purpose.

“We need stickiness as a destination,” he said. “People, tourists, they want to explore more while they are here and if they do, they stay even longer.”

Tourism makes up what he called a “mobility economy” — today’s visitor wants to engage in the community they are in, he said, and that means connecting more with the people and businesses of places like Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula.

Where groups like Tourism Victoria and the SBIA comes in, he continued, is in creating demand.

“That is key. The SBIA does that in Sidney and Tourism Victoria does it regionally and both need to work in concert to benefit each other on a greater scale.”

Nursey added that when each group succeeds, jobs are created, wages improve and the returns on tourism promotion investment are increased.

“These regional partnerships are important to Tourism Victoria,” he said, “as people here and from abroad tend to move around the region.”

As a result, Tourism Victoria has been working with the SBIA and others to cross-promote Sidney and the Peninsula. That work has been paying off, he noted, saying since February, average occupancy rates in Greater Victoria hotels have been at 62 per cent — and pushing 70 per cent in March.

“Compare that to 2012 when we had a 62 per cent average overall that year.”

Nursey said tourism is booming again, all over the world.

“Now we just have to play it right,” he said, adding this region’s biggest competition for tourism dollars is the rest of the world.

This year, Nursey said Tourism Victoria has released its spring campaign: Victoria, B.C.: Beyond Words. He added the industry will be looking for incremental growth in 2015, through telling the region’s stories and addressing seasonal issues, among other strategies.