It’ll still be a while before the final numbers are added up to reveal the economic impact of the royal visit for the capital region. But with delegates from the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the PGA tour also flooding into the city during that time, Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said it all amounted to one amazing week.
“The tourism operators, especially the hotels, were talking about the fact that it was maxed out. All the rooms on the lower Island up to Duncan were occupied,” said Holt about hosting the three major events all at once.
“The main thing I think the (royal) visit did for Victoria was make us look like an amazing place, so that’s more of an investment in future visitors than the immediate.”
From florists and catering to transportation and restaurants, businesses were buzzing throughout Victoria as the region showcased the finest it has to offer. During their week-long visit to B.C., where Government House was used as a home base, Prince William and Kate made several public appearances, including the B.C. Legislature, the Cridge Centre for the Family and sailing a tall ship with the Sail and Life Training Society into the Inner Harbour on their final day.
Their movements were closely tracked by a horde of international media, which lit up during the children’s party at Government House, where the couple let their two young children waltz into the spotlight to play with local youngsters. But when the couple toured other locations (without their children), such as Bella Bella and Haida Gwaii, the focus was largely on photo ops and what Kate was wearing instead of where they were going or what they did.
Nonetheless, as many as 1,000 members of the media came to Victoria to cover the royal visit, which also attracted hundreds of fans from across the province and south of the border.
Tourism Victoria covered the visit by posting live video on its social media sites from every major event. Video of the royal couple arriving was the best performing Facebook post ever with more than 51,000 views.
“As the destination marketing organization for Greater Victoria, we could not have asked for a better opportunity to show our region to the world,” said Tourism Victoria President and CEO Paul Nursey in a written statement.
“We know from reaction of media and tour operators that there is interest in coming back to Victoria. Time will tell how much business we are able to achieve because of knowledge gained from the royals visiting our destination.”
For Marc Holescher, a partner at Peetz Outdoors Limited in Victoria, the royal visit provided a rare opportunity to deliver a unique artifact to the royal collection. To commemorate their visit, the Victoria branch of the Monarchist League of Canada selected one of its Artist Series wood fishing reels as a gift for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Carved by renowned Kwagiulth artist Jason Henry Hunt, the reel’s design contains an orca, salmon and moon that’s meant to bring focus to the majestic West Coast species that depend on healthy Pacific salmon stocks for their existence. The reel is one of the six artist proof reels from the 2016 artist series commissioned each year that aren’t available for sale to the public. Instead they’re reserved to support the fundraising efforts of organizations focused on salmon conservation and habitat rehabilitation.
Holescher thought the reel was fitting since the couple went fishing during their visit with First Nation in Haida Gwaii. Prince Andrew also used Peetz wood fishing reels to catch salmon off Pedder Bay during a visit in July 1977.
“Whether they use it or it ends up as an artifact in the royal collection, either way we were honoured,” said Holescher. “It was a perfect fit.”