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Cruise ship season set to get underway in Victoria

Optimism is blooming this spring in B.C.'s capital, where the first cruise ship will dock on April 11.

A record-breaking 850,000 passengers are expected this year, and Robert Lewis Manning, head of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), says he's thrilled about the numbers.

"It is growth as far as the number of people that will be visiting the City of Victoria, so we're pretty thrilled about that part," he said Tuesday.

Adding to that optimism, hotel bookings are up about five percent for this time of year compared to pre-pandemic numbers, according to Destination Greater Victoria.

Still, that optimism is tempered by a few factors. The ongoing labour shortage is of particular concern and that's caused some hotels to get innovative to attract workers, according Bll Lewis, the head of the Greater Victoria Hotel Association.

"I know some of the bigger properties are still having to limit capacity," said Lewis on Tuesday.

"I know there’s other properties that are using some of the rooms they would have sold in the past to house workers, workforce," he added.


Inflation is another issue that has some tourism-related businesses like Victoria’s Ice Cream and Fudge Factory worried.

Alexya Skrlac operates the store. She says she’s excited about the idea of more tourists coming to town on cruise ships, but is not sure they'll spend much at her store.

"People are just watching their dollars, and if they're coming to town they're not spending it in tourist shops," she said.

Another concern is that vacancies at downtown storefronts, including on iconic Government Street, are higher than they've been in a decade. It's a bleak look that may not encourage out-of-towners to linger long.

"Government Street that used to be the lively active street, we're hoping we're going to see it again," said Skrlac.

It's hope that’s fueled by the return of cruise ships, an unofficial beginning of the tourist season, and the start of some uncertainty in a vital sector of Victoria's economy. Top Stories

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