By Tim Collins
Enthusiastic anticipation is growing for the Victoria visit of Prince William and his wife Kate in the belief the event will go a long way to boost the region’s economy and to the largely dormant tourism industry during the traditionally quiet “shoulder season” following the summer influx of tourists.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be in Victoria between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 and, although they are visiting other B.C. locations during the period, it’s anticipated their time in Victoria will be the focus of their visit. The Queen’s home away from home, Government House will be the temporary home for the royal visit.
Trina Mousseau, chief marketing officer with Tourism Victoria, expects the visit to have a substantial impact on the economy of the city.
“It’s definitely a big deal for our destination (Victoria). We expect as many as 1,000 members of the media coming to Victoria to cover the royal visit. That in itself will have a significant economic impact as they’ll be staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and experiencing firsthand everything our region has to offer,” said Mousseau.
But it’s not only the cadre of media coming to Victoria to experience the royal visit. Frank Bouree of Chemistry Consulting, and past chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, anticipates visitors from Vancouver, Seattle and beyond, all flocking to Victoria to see the popular royals for their historic visit.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see people coming here from as far away as Toronto,” said Bouree, adding the royal family has an incredible drawing power and every visitor adds to the economic impact of the event.
That impact won’t be finally calculated until well after the visit has happened, and will have to factor in the costs associated with the visit, but Bouree said an average daily expenditure of $500 can be anticipated by every member of the media as well as other visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple and their children. That estimate is based upon past experience and includes hotel and restaurant business as well as a moderate increase in retail traffic.
But Peggy Kulmala, public affairs manager for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, feels the true benefit of the royal visit must necessarily factor in the value in world-wide exposure it will have for the City of Victoria.
“We’re very proud of our city and an event like this gives us the opportunity to showcase Victoria and the surrounding region to a huge number of people who might otherwise not know what we have to offer,” said Kulmala, adding the true value of the event may lie in the pride of Victoria’s residents and the long term boost in exposure the royal visit will afford.
It’s a sentiment shared by Mouseau and Tourism Victoria.
“The publicity has already been incredible. People Magazine, with its substantial international circulation, has a feature on the royals coming to Victoria. It’s hard to put a price tag on the value that has for marketing our destination,” she said.
Dr. Brock Smith, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria, has a slightly different take on the visit.
“The fact is that the itinerary of the visit doesn’t lend itself to a lot of public exposure, and if I were planning this visit with an eye to increasing economic impact, I would have pushed for a lot more events where the public could interact with the royals,” said Smith. “That would draw more people to the city, for sure.”
He went on to say that it would be tremendous if the royal visit could help to promote local industry, like fashion designers for example.
“Kate is an international fashion icon and if she could have been convinced to wear something produced or designed here, it would have an immediate and significant impact. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn’t tend to happen, particularly when the visit is announced with a minimal lead time.”
Smith does agree with the belief in the long term benefit to Victoria, citing the fact that millions of people will see images of the region generating millions of dollars worth of free advertising for Victoria.