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Victoria tourism issues and discussion


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#1 Mike K.

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 09:37 AM

Oh boy...here we go again. Victoria will now spend $3 million to draw visitors to Victoria. And they're trying to make people stay longer than 2 days. Perhaps they'd stay more than two days if they weren't visiting Seattle or Vancouver to begin with. Think about it, Lorne. The reason these people come here is to see this "old world charm meets...mediocre new world stuff" place their Seattle or Vancouver hotels flaunt as a perfect one or two day getaway.

We'll never get serious tourists deadheading for Victoria like they do to Seattle and Vancouver because Victoria gimmicks itself as a cozy retreat, not a city worth a week of a tourists time.

Those white elephants at Tourism Victoria just don't get it...

Budget rises to lure visitors
Tourism Victoria’s marketing budget will reach $3 million for the first time in 2007

BY CARLA WILSON Times Colonist staff


The marketing budget for Greater Victoria will reach $3 million for the first time next year as tourism officials work to fill the region’s 7,000 hotel rooms.
Tourism Victoria is banking on events such as the Titanic exhibit at the Royal B.C. Museum, and BMX bicycle and soccer championships to keep the $1 billionplus industry buoyant.
It’s all about attracting visitors and convincing them to stay overnight. The average overnight stay is two nights. Tourism Victoria CEO Lorne Whyte wants to see visitors stay longer.
Recent additions to the region’s hotels include the Westin Bear Mountain with 156 rooms and the Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour, with 250 rooms.
More hotel rooms are expected to open in 2007 and 2008, “As you increase the number of rooms, you need to increase the number of visitors,” Whyte said Wednesday.
The long-term plan is to double tourism revenues to $2.3 billion by 2015, Whyte said.
In 2005, the tourism sector generated $1.151 billion. This year, the projection is for $1.186 billion. “I think we are going to make it,” he said. Although final numbers are not in, it appears that August and September were strong tourism months. This month is also looking good, especially with the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference scheduled here Oct. 23-27.
Tourism Victoria’s outlook remains optimistic despite fewer American tourists visiting here and elsewhere in Canada. Dropping numbers of U.S. visitors have alarmed tourism officials across the country.
Again, numbers are not in yet, but it appears that overall U.S. visitors are down three to five per cent locally, Whyte said. It’s difficult to know partway through the year exactly how 2006 will turn out for the industry, “It’s a bit of a moving target.”
Overall hotel revenues are running 3.25 to four per cent higher than the same time last year, he said. Visitors have been patronizing three-star rather than fourstar hotels.
This year’s Tourism Victoria marketing budget is $2.9 million.
Next year’s is set for $3.19 million, with money coming from the hotel tax and public- and private-sector partners, Whyte said.
Marketing initiatives for the Titanic will concentrate on B.C., Alberta, and Washington state, he said.
Tourism officials were happy with the recent news that the U.S. will be postponing requirements for passports or some kind of special identification to cross the border.
The issue has confused potential visitors. “In a lot of cases, they have just stayed home,” Whyte said.
Tourism Victoria will be building on its new slogan, Victoria, B.C., full of life, to market the region as a unique destination where “Old World charm meets New World experiences,” he said. For example, a visitor might stay at a hotel in Victoria, rent a car and drive to the Cowichan Valley for wine-tasting or head to the Saanich Peninsula for the day.
Delta Airlines’ direct flights between Salt Lake City and Victoria over 22 weeks were a success story, and Whyte hopes they will happen again in 2007. The flights drew visitors for an average stay of five nights. “Very few of them had been here before. We need to mine more of those types of destinations.”
FIFA soccer championships, for players 20 and under, slated in Royal Athletic Park, and the Victoria BMX 2007 World Championships at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre are expected to pull in thousands of fans in July.

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#2 G-Man

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 10:35 AM

That pisses me off there are plenty of things to do downtown, if you want to besides drink tea. God why do we assume the only thing tourists want to do is visit the museum or go on a tour. Just tell them there is a city here to explore, dead stop. We are not a little town we are a city.

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#3 Scaper

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:38 PM

^ bingo

#4 aastra

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:59 PM

The "old world charm" thing is nonsense. It's the tourist trap mentality. No need to build a proper cruise ship terminal...just get them downtown and take their money and get them back out again. Um, maybe a fine hotel at Ogden Point would draw some of those cruise ship passengers back for a longer stay? That's crazy talk.

Is it just me or is whale watching becoming a huge deal now? It seems like people are talking about it all over the place. They had a great time whale watching in Victoria. Can't wait to get to Victoria to go whale watching. But we're still selling the tired horse and carriage nonsense.

People are coming to Victoria to see a complete, living city. A city on an island. A city on the west coast. A city surrounded by ocean. This conspiracy between the tourist trap huxster types and the anti-everything curmudgeons is the major problem. As long as their ancient notions rule the day, Victoria can never mature into the legitimate international destination it (obviously) should be.

Stop selling fluff and fakery and start selling the real Victoria. The city, the ocean, the weather. Heck, the golf.

Anybody who thinks Victoria can't prosper without gimmicks is out to lunch. Does Kelowna have gimmicks? Nope. It sells the lake, the climate, and the wineries. Does the Comox Valley have gimmicks? Nope. It sells fishing and the wilderness.
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#5 aastra

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 02:07 PM

Also, the harbour (marinas, ships, and floatplanes included).

#6 G-Man

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 10:35 AM

How about everyone list five things that Tourists should do in Victoria but that maybe they don't or may not even know about.

For me:

1. Go for a coffee and a stroll through Cook Street Village.
2. Walk the length of Westsong Way.
3. Go to the Art Gallery.
4. Go for a hike through Mt Doug Park
5. Spend an afternoon perusing the design district.
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It has a whole new look!

 


#7 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 11:32 AM

1. See the gardens at Government House (don't miss the south terraces w/ view of Olympics -- I once saw 2 guys there who looked like Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They asked me, "What is this place," not "where" but "what." I think they were awestruck, and if it was "the Google boys," maybe they went to Iona Campagnola and made her an offer. Luckily, she can't -- nor would -- sell it...!) (free)
2. Visit Fisherman's Wharf and Shoal Point (be sure to roam the courtyards) and reflect on the contrasts (free) over treats at Moka House ($)
3. Poke through the used books stores d/t and in OB -- and if you're near there, Sidney (free and $-$$, depending on finds)
4. Oggle the cool beads and gorgeous jewelry designs at Skanda on Fort St. and have a custom piece made up from beads you choose, for yourself or a lover ($$$)
5. Sketch the Sitting Lady Falls at Witty's Lagoon in Metchosin (free, except transport needed)
EDIT: actually, since this is for Victoria and not the surroundings (Metchosin), here's an alternate for #5: Explore the Selkirk Trestle from Vic West's Spiral Cafe/ Village area to the Selkirk waterfront/development on the other side (free). Go rowing (?$$).
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#8 Baro

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 11:57 AM

Everyone knows there are only 5 things to do in Victoria and it all takes 1-2 days.

1. Pay a ridiculous amount of money for some tea and snacks that you could get at any tea shop in Victoria but for x5 the price at the empress.

2. Pay a ridiculous amount of money to go see a boring and tacky and not all that well done tourist trap, take your pick from miniature world or the wax museum.

3. Pay a ridiculous amount of money to go see an over-hyped old quarry out the middle of nowhere that has some plants in it that you can see in other gardens for free in the city.

4. Pay a ridiculous amount of money buying some tourist crap along government street, DO NOT LEAVE GOVERNMENT STREET TO SHOP!!!

5. Pay a ridiculous amount of money to go out on a boat and maybe get to see a whale.

That's the problem with victoria, everything is so expensive and there are NO non-tourist shops or restaurants, and no places in the entire city anyone could posibly go that wasn't an over-priced tourist trap. And if any one of you fuckers mentions a potential alternative from the 5 above, you're fucking fired from my newspaper and a pariah trying to destroy our tourist industry! (not that any such alternatives exist)
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#9 Holden West

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 12:16 PM

I nominate Baro for the


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#10 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 03:28 PM

I second that nomination...

Baro's observation "NO non-tourist shops or destinations" is mostly true, at least for d/t. Why isn't there an Apple Store, or a Swatch Store, or any other kind of high-end or recognizable brand "magnet" store in d/t Victoria (other than clothing) that residents might want to shop at? It's all stuffed to the brim with tchotchkes that nobody (except a tourist) would want.

Ok, so now I'm thinking that this has to do with how residents, particularly the well-off, are abandoning d/t. I should say that I don't have anything against "rich" people, and think it's cynical to constantly slag them as some kind of point of principle, because who among us wouldn't like to be well-off? But I'm wondering whether they're doing their bit to keep d/t merchants afloat. Part of the blame lies in a dearth of good stores d/t, but part of the blame does rest with the well-off.

Some months ago, a long-time employee of one of the better-known retail institutions (bookseller on Gov't.St.) told me that folks at his place of employ were all shaking their heads when British Importers abandoned its Gov't St location in favour of car-friendlier Harris Green. They all thought it wouldn't make a difference and was a stupid move. Wrong! Instead, BI's business went up 3 or 4-fold (I forget exactly what the fellow said), and the only reason is because the store now has on-premises parking. Go take a look at the parking lot on a Saturday afternoon: I guarantee you'll see only BMWs, Mercedes, Porsches, and the occasional Volvo "CrossCountry" wagon. I walked into British Importers a while back (and retreated quickly, too); price-wise, it's a high-end store that should be d/t. But its customers, which on that day at any rate were particularly snooty and pretentious, don't want to mingle with all the riff-raff d/t, and more to the point, they want to drive right up to the store and disappear inside, without having to be on "the street." The day I was there, the clientele appeared like an inbred clique that measures its status through its shopping habits. They all seemed to know the staff and each other personally -- I felt as though I'd crashed a private party... It was YUCKY.

But ok, fine, if someone can pay over $200 for an ordinary made-overseas-in-a-maquilladora pair of jeans, great. But why aren't those bastards willing to shop d/t? BI left the d/t for business reasons: they're doing much better now that they've taken themselves out of the core of the core. That's what kills me -- there's a reason we have so many t-shirt stores for tourists and not enough quality stores in the core. Victoria's "upper class" isn't supporting it.

Maybe if more people live d/t -- rich and middle-class -- more shops will spring up to meet their needs. But some well-off people I know already talk about the CanWest mall as a "shopping destination" (that's a quote), so I'm not taking anything for granted.

I also agree that everything is very expensive. I grew up here, moved away, and moved back, and I've never spent as much money to feed my family as I do here (they're teens in the "eating me out of house and home" phase). It's especially bad if you want to eat fresh produce vs. prefab food. (Maybe it's time to bring back Victory Gardening. You can even do that as "square foot gardening" on a condo balcony -- at least you'd avoid getting gouged, paying $3-4 p/lb for vine tomatoes in the bleeding middle of summer!)

Spitting distance from Bastion Square's Irish Pub (beer at $7 a glass?) there used to be a pub where I drank as an underage teen. Ok, the pub was scuzzy, the beer was watery, but a glass cost 25cents -- and no, it wasn't back in the 19th century, either. Obviously, prices go up, and comparing Irish Times to that old bar is like comparing shiny new apples to mouldy old oranges, but it's crazy how everything everywhere around here has gone up in price...

When the scuzzy pubs charged 25cents a glass for a beer, it was the mid-70s and Victoria's d/t residential population was much higher, percentage-wise, than it is now (as per John Johnson's excellent article, "Mythbusters," on this site's front page). Maybe, when residential population goes back up again, we'll see a better range of stores for average wage-earners, as well as some upscale stores moving into d/t (for all those folks in the "luxury" penthouses, right? the ones that are going to shop locally and not drive to the 'burbs?).

I'm looking forward to the day when some tourist complains about not finding made-in-China Mounties or Beavers because all the stores are selling stuff that residents actually want... <dream on>
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#11 Holden West

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 04:44 PM

Don't forget the negative feedback that occured over Anthem's plans to turn their Market Square properties upscale by gradually introducing national chains. "Oh! But what about the Mom and Pop stores?" the people cried.

And Councillor Dean Fortin wants to add another tax on downtown beer to pay for the urinals. Call it a "recycling fee."

As for "Mom and Pop" stores, this morning I went into one (actually, a Pop and Son store) to buy a Times Colonist and "Pop" laid into me for using exact coins ($1.48 instead of rounding up to $1.50 and giving him the two cents). He said I must be "hard up" and "lazy". The locally-owned coffee shop across the street is manned by surly kids that couldn't get hired at Starbucks. So I go to the nearby locally owned java stop where they are friendly (at least for the time being).
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#12 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 05:08 PM

Yes, I remember the Anthem "anxiety"... I think it has something to do with local people not feeling like they "own" their d/t, like it's all done for the tourists or "the rich" (definitions vary, but includes corporations).

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that getting more people living d/t is the only way to reclaim d/t for ourselves. Otherwise, you can offer all the shopping options in the world, they'll just be perceived as being for "others" by others.

As for unengaged youth, don't get me started. But what I really can't get over is how they can't make change if you "mess them up" by handing over $10.25 if something costs, say, $6.18, but they've already punched the $10 into the computer/cash register before it occured to you to add the quarter so you'd get $4.17 in change vs. $3.82, 'cause maybe you're being picky and want two toonies and fewer quarters, nickels, and dimes...

C'mon, people, be a bit quicker with the noggin'!

I hadn't heard about the tax on d/t beer under consideration. Sheesh.

I just read a friend's blog entry -- she lives in Marin, CA, but is visiting her mother in Budapest, Hungary, and she wrote about all the restaurants they've been going to. Makes me weep. Eg.: an "upscale" and friendly grill, buffet-style, where you go to pick out your meat item and they prepare it as you like it (and it's a buffet, so you can go back for seconds, not that that's the key thing, but still...), all fresh food, freshly prepared, very tasty (and remember, she's from Marin, she's very picky), plus any/ all beverages you can drink included. The price? 15 Euros per person.

My friend from high school was visiting with her daughter over the summer (she lives in Florence, Italy), and she was floored at the cost of living here. I don't know whether they get their food (and their wine!!) subsidized over there or what, but it's cheaper there. Last time my husband visited his mother, they picked up vintage wine (in France) at the super-marche for about 5 Euros. An equivalent BC wine (in terms of quality) costs about $18 (think Sandhill Merlot, say).

I think we're supposed consider expensiveness here as a "paradise tax." But that wears thin too...
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#13 Holden West

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 05:23 PM

I was quite happy to hand over three dollars for a bottle of Savignon Blanc at a French supermarche.

At least we've made it easier for tourists to take a decent bottle of wine back to their downtown hotel rooms--not like it was 20 years ago.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#14 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 05:32 PM

How true!

Cheers! (raises glass)
:-D

(Literally -- I'm off to baste the bird, make the gravy, and then succumb to all those dopa-something-or-others allegedly in turkey meat that make you sleepy... zzzz!)

G'bye-ee, and happy thanksgiving to all...
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#15 G-Man

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 08:24 PM

I think that some land mark stores downtown would be a great draw.

Now not to discount your theory Ms. B but I suggest the example of Earls which just moved from an outer city spot with surface parking to a downtown spot with no parking. I am not saying it is an exact comparison but perhaps the end of DT is not upon us quite yet.

I think that in a lot of ways downtown has everything right now for a tourist to enjoy but instead we prescreen our tourists and only select the ones that will enjoy going to the gardens and sipping tea. Tell them what is downtown right now and we will still get the tea drinkers on there cruise layover but we may also get more weekenders from Vancouver looking for an alternative shopping experience.

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#16 Holden West

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:16 PM

CNN's take on Victoria:

http://edition.cnn.c... ... index.html

(Be warned: you might want to pop a Gravol first)
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#17 G-Man

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:18 PM

That is the worst article I have ever read!

Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 

 

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#18 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:33 PM

Quite so, G-Man -- Earls is an improvement over Elephant & Castle, even if both sport so veddy veddy English names. But at least "Earl" is more generic, and their sidewalk looks a lot better than it did under E&C's tenure...!

Holden, are you some kind of sadist or what? That CNN piece of (edit) "toilet paper" (edit) "nose mucus" was the worst sort of journo-porn, fit only for (edit) "self-pleasing" CEOs in the tourism industry and their sub-IQ mass tourism suckers. And it's from Dec.05 -- you're really trying to embarass poor little Linda Hagen Miller, aren't you? ;-)

By the way, G-Man, sorry about practically hijacking the topic ("tourists" and "five things")...

Re. the five things and my comment about used books stores, and this being the South Island Economy thread and all: Abebooks dot com got started because the woman who owned Grafton Books (in OB) got so fed up with the cumbersome ways of shipping book orders around the world that her spouse (who at the time worked for the government and was, the hear-say goes, dying of boredom) figured "there must be a better way!" So he and a friend built abebooks.com, presumably under the watchful eye of the Grafton bookseller, and the rest is ...well, you know: legend. Needless to add, these guys quit their government day jobs (wouldn't you if Amazon showed an interest in buying your ass<ets>?). Grafton's was sold a year or two or so ago, but it's still a neat story, eh?

From used books to one of Victoria's biggest high tech firms...
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#19 Holden West

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 11:22 PM

One of the founders of Flickr has a local connection, correct? There are currently up to three Class-A office projects being proposed for downtown--could the diversification of Downtown's tourism-based economy be far behind?

Anyway, I hope the writer of that CNN article, Linda Hagen Miller, doesn't come across our nasty comments. Linda Hagen Miller would surely be offended. Linda Hagen Miller could find them by Googling her name. If that were to happen, I'd surely apologize to Linda Hagen Miller.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#20 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 06:46 AM

Oh you are mean, too!

I feel so contrite... It's not even 8am on a holiday morning and I came to edit the rude words out of my comment, but I see you have already remarked on them... (might edit them anyway)... (and just did)

Blame it on The Dude and Walter. I watched that ultimate slacker-guy movie, The Big Lebowski, last night and their slacker attitude toward language and profanity coloured my own use of our great mother tongue. In my heart of hearts, however, I naturally self-identified with Maude.

What I meant to say in that last comment, of course, without the use of the rude word for toilet paper and nose mucus, is that Miller's article isn't worth the paper it would be printed on if its pathetic digital self were printed out.

Re. flickr: yes, Stewart Butterfield lists Lund BC as his hometown, but he grew up in Victoria, went to SMUS (Steve Nash's school, too), and his father is David Butterfield, the developer.
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