Those working in the tourism sector are still busy adding up their numbers from the summer, but anecdotally, it looks like 2012 will go down as more profitable than last year.
“Talking to various resorts that I’ve had conversations with the last couple weeks, July and August have been pretty strong months on this half of the Coast, from Earl’s Cove down,” said Celia Robben, president of the Sunshine Coast Tourism Association (SCTA).
Early indications were that 2012 could be a challenge after ferry traffic declined during the month of July.
Compared to last year, July saw 1.2 per cent fewer vehicles travelling along route three along with a 4.4 per cent decrease in passenger counts.
While August statistics have not yet been released, B.C. Ferries reported that traffic had increased for the Labour Day weekend.
“We were actually up 3.6 per cent in passengers compared to the same weekend last year and then for vehicles we were up 0.2 per cent,” said ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.
While the July ferry stats paint a picture of decline, several operators of various tourist draws across the Coast are more optimistic.
Lina Jakobs, owner of the Bonniebrook Lodge in Elphinstone, said accommodations were “way up” this year.
“We’re in our fourth year of owning the property and I think word of mouth is starting to indicate to folks there’s a great place just around the corner from Vancouver,” she said.
Last year, the establishment struggled with a sharp drop in liquor sales, in combination with a rise in food prices. Combined with a rebound in alcohol sales, Jakobs said Internet advertising played a role in getting customers to the inn.
At the Painted Boat Resort in Madeira Park, the summer was looking a bit rough until August, when business started to pick up.
According to general manager Ryan Schmidt, the resort draws heavily on European markets through the use of tourist agencies.
“July was a little bit down, about 15 per cent, and then August was up from last year, about 20 per cent,” he reported, saying weather often serves as an encouragement for people to book ahead for the next month.
“Rainy June, people aren’t sitting on their decks in Vancouver going ‘ah I want to go somewhere nice, because the weather’s great,’” he explained.
While hotel owners on the Coast were shy about releasing their statistics, the SCTA did say that overbooking occurred at least once during August, leaving some visitors scrambling for accommodation.
At Molly’s Reach in Gibsons, Diane Markle described 2012 as the busiest year she’d seen. Seeing “a lot more tourists” this year, Markle guessed that it might have been the weather bringing American, Asian and European travellers to Gibsons.
“It helps everybody,” she said. “We had a really good year, a really good season.”