EDITORIAL: Kudos to city’s cruise industry

Marking of "five-millionth" cruise passenger more than simply symbolic

Tourism in Victoria is in ship-shape according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

The region welcomed its five-millionth cruise ship passenger last week – the title officially granted jointly to newlyweds Michael Nace and Patricia Guthrie of Santee, Calif. on Aug. 30.

It was the icing on the cake for the harbour authority, which recorded a banner year.

And it is not alone. Early numbers indicate Victoria enjoyed the best tourist season since 2008 this year, beginning in the spring and heating up along with the summer weather.

Hotel occupancy was up 1.5 per cent compared to last year and the average daily room rate increased by more than $10 this quarter.

Aside from hotel rooms, the cruise ship industry is integral to that success.

In 2001, a mere 71 ships arrived at Ogden Point, compared to the 210 scheduled to enter the port this year, including the Celebrity Solstice, one of the largest ships at sea, which brings up to 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew to the city each week.

With tourism numbers down across the country, not to mention Greater Victoria’s lull over the last few years, those coming by sea are an integral part of the brighter tourism picture in our region. The cruise industry now brings in approximately 15 per cent of the estimated three million visitors to Victoria each year.

Reaching the five-million mark is a coup for the harbour authority, especially in light of the fact that it is a not-for-profit corporation that operates Fisherman’s Wharf, Ship Point in the Inner Harbour, Wharf and Johnson Street marinas. The ships bring a consistent flow of tourists that bolster each community event and increase the lively, vibrant feel of the city that entices visitors to return.

Despite issues with its neighbours, which the harbour authority continues to address,  the cruise ship business is clearly good for the region and should be given our support and congratulations.