Few cities have as much to offer visitors as Greater Victoria: a clean, beautiful region with a heritage downtown, a spectacular Inner Harbour, outstanding attractions, and some of the world's best outdoor activities in an unparalleled natural setting. Additionally, Greater Victoria's world-famous hospitality and friendliness make it a place that visitors return to again and again.
Greater Victoria is a world-renowned visitor destination and the tourism industry plays a significant role in the local economy. In 2009, Victoria generated almost $1 billion in tourist revenue and a total of 2.38 million visitors. The average daily expenditure per person was $123, the highest for tourist visits per capita in Canada. Reported daily expenditure per visitor grew eight per cent between 2003 and 2009.
As a tourism destination, Victoria is recognized with some significant accolades. In Condé Nast Traveler's 2009 Readers' Choice Awards, Victoria is listed as No. 4 in the Americas and six of Greater Victoria's hotels were listed among Canada's Top 30 Hotels.
Victoria was also named No. 1 Destination Canada, No. 2 Destination for Culture and Sightseeing, and No. 24 Destination World in Trip Advisor's 2010 Travelers' Choice Destination Awards. The Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Destinations Awards honour the world's top destinations, which earn their distinction from the opinions of millions of real travellers.
Accommodation and food services is the sector that is most closely related to the overall tourism industry. Growth has been strong in Greater Victoria, totalling a 16 per cent increase in employment from 2003 to 2008 compared to only six per cent growth in Metro Vancouver and 12 per cent growth in British Columbia overall.
Outdoor activities are among the most popular attractions for visitors to Greater Victoria, which is consistent across all three segments sampled: visitors travelling by ferry with a vehicle, travelling by air, and travelling on foot. During 2004-2008, a notable upward trend occurred in the percentage of visitors participating in walking/hiking, visiting parks, and attending theatre/concerts.
In addition to more conventional tourism activities, sport tourism has been growing with the increase in major sports events held in the region. In 2009, the U21 World Soccer Championships were the first international soccer tournament to have garnered more than a million fans Canada-wide. Victoria played a very significant role in this event, with sell-out crowds at nearly every game.
Other major sporting events held in Greater Victoria include the 2005 Ford World Men's Curling Championship, 2006 Skate Canada, and 2010 TELUS World Skins Game. The annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race and the start of the Vic-Maui Yacht Race, the longest offshore sailboat race on the West Coast, are more examples.
With Victoria as a port of call on the cruise route to Alaska, the cruise industry significantly affects the region. In 2009, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) saw 219 large cruise ships, bringing in more than 450,000 tourists plus some 150,000 crew, with an estimated direct-spending impact of $33.6 million. The total economic impact of the cruise industry for 2009, including shipbuilding and repair, manufacturing, utilities, etc., is $164.2 million.
The Victoria Conference Centre connects to the landmark Fairmont Empress Hotel and is a key attraction that hosts a wide range of conferences of up to 1,500 delegates each year. A recent expansion into the historic Crystal Garden has increased total meeting space to 73,000 square feet.
The lucrative nature of Greater Victoria's tourism industry is also evidenced by the surge of transportation to the city. Airport passenger traffic has grown consistently over the past six years and the sea plane route between Victoria Harbour and Vancouver Harbour is Canada's busiest air route based on the number of weekly flights. Furthermore, an estimated 1.9 million visitors arrive each year by car on ferries from the mainland and the United States.
Tourism Victoria is the leading marketing organization for Greater Victoria's tourism industry and has approximately 1,000 member businesses.
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