Oak Bay enjoys busy visitor season

Visitor numbers appear to up within Oak Bay, local hoteliers and businesses say

Visitor numbers appear to up within Oak Bay.

“We have a few ways that we measure visitation,” said Karma Brophy, consultant with Tourism Oak Bay. “The most indicative is that hotel numbers are up this year, not just in Oak Bay but also in Victoria which affects us because we get a lot of visitors from downtown.”

The hotel numbers within Oak Bay are up over last year, says Phil Trott, assistant general manager at Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

Occupancy for June was up 13 per cent over last year, and July is up 17 per cent.

“We’re running about 87 per cent occupancy,” Trott said. The average rate is up $30 over last year and occupancies for August are at 93 per cent. “It’s just been a great year for tourism in Victoria. We are becoming a well-recognized brand in Canada and internationally as well.”

In its list of Canada’s Top Hotels, Trip-Advisor ranked the hotel fourth in the category Luxury Hotel in Canada; ninth in Top Hotel in Canada; and 20th in Top Hotel for Romance in Canada.

“Those accolades are certainly having an impact as well,” Trott said.

“On average about 86 per cent of all travellers will actually check your online reputation, so it’s hard not to have a positive impact on our operation.”

Oak Bay Tourism’s downtown campaign includes advertising and maps distributed through the core and the Victoria Visitors Centre.

“There’s a huge partnership with Tourism Victoria that we leverage plus we work on our own campaign,” Brophy said.

Part of that includes fostering partnerships with businesses that offer hop-on hop-off and cycling tours who include Oak Bay in their area tours.

“We want to show off Oak Bay. We want to make sure that the great businesses, shops and cafés are gaining business,” Brohpy said.

“We want to make sure we’re doing this in a way that’s responsible and contributes to quality of life.”

Red Art Gallery on Oak Bay Avenue also utilizes downtown advertising and staff there are noticing a marked increase in tourists, as they maintain a daily journal of visitors.

“We classify tourists as someone who has come on their own to Oak Bay versus someone who has stopped in because they are here visiting with friends or relatives,” said owner Bobb Hamilton.

“The recent range of out-of-country tourists includes Belgium, Germany, many from California and a lot from Washington State. Yesterday [July 16] we had two sets of people in from Portland, Oregon at the same time and they did not know each other. Once we asked them, they overheard and we all started a conversation about Portland.”

For Red Art Gallery, tourists make up more than 30 per cent of the summer traffic, but account for less than 10 per cent of overall sales.

“Tourists seem to find us by either our multiple websites, the Tourism Victoria information centre in the Inner Harbour, or our gallery rack cards found in the local B&Bs and the Victoria airport,” Hamilton said.

“Tourists seem to consistent in their unsolicited comments…they love Oak Bay, they enjoy our gallery and they would be delighted to live here.”