Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tourism has a bounce back year in 2008

While 2007 proved to be a disappointing year for tourism in Prince Rupert, due mainly to the much discussed problems that BC Ferries had in that year, 2008 is looking a little brighter for tourism operators in the city.

The Daily News provided some background on some BC Statistics numbers that showed a small recovery from the troubled year of 2007, their findings were published in the August 7th edition of the paper.

Tourism sector bouncing back
After Queen of the North woes, city headed in right direction: TPR
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Pages one and five

According to new figures released by BC Statistics, tourism in Prince Rupert made a moderate recovery in 2007 after a 2006 that was hurt by BC Ferries trouble.

Figures obtained by the Daily News showed that tourism room-revenue for the City of Rainbows had increased to $9.08 million in 2007 from $7 million in 2006 – or an increase of 29.71 per cent.

“Overall, we took a slump in 2006 after the Queen of the North sank and we haven’t really returned to pre-2006 ferry traffic number level,” said Tourism Prince Rupert president Bruce Wishart.

“However, we are starting to see a spike in ferry numbers, so hopefully that will help.”

Tourism room revenue is a BC Statistics economic measurement of revenues taken in by hotels, motels and other large accommodations, such as fishing lodges.

Currently, Prince Rupert is home to 20 accommodation properties that house a total of 867 rooms.

Preliminary numbers for tourism room revenue in 2008 are right now looking steady for Prince Rupert.

BC Stats representative Lillian Hallin said that according to their research, Prince Rupert’s first four month (January-to-April) tourism room revenue numbers were up slightly, $2.01 million in 2008 from $1.94 million in 2007, or up 3.7 per cent.

The positive returns are not only being realized in Prince Rupert as Skeena-Queen Charlotte, Kitimat-Stikine and Terrace all saw increases in room revenue from 2006-to-2007.

The Queen Charlotte Islands were by far the leader in tourism room revenues, raking in $17.1 million in 2007.

Terrace’s tourism room revenues increased modestly in comparison to Prince Rupert’s.

Terrace’s room revenues reached $6.3 million in 2007 from $5.5 million in 2006, or an increase of 14.6 per cent. But that does not mean that Terrace feels it is doing poorly.

“We’ve seen an upswing in business travel,” said Brian Downie, President of the Terrace Tourism Society.

“There has been a 20 per cent increase in airplane passenger traffic since 2006, which for us, we think, is the main driving factor.”

Downie believes that Terrace could benefit in big ways if some of the mining development proposed for the north pans out.

“We (Terrace Tourism Society) are developing our tourism industry with events like Riverboat Days that bring huge single-visitor figures to Terrace.”

And both Downie and Wishart agree that the North Coast must work together more as a region if the area is going to see the numbers increase from where they are.

“Mom and Pop Alabama are not going to come specifically to Prince Rupert,” said Wishart. “But they are likely to see Alaska or Northern B. C. as a destination. For us, we try to buy into their travel process to get included in their itinerary package.

“They see the friendly people and the nice atmosphere and once they are charmed, they are likely to come back again on their own.”

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