Victoria could run out of hotel rooms when demand returns

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Victoria’s tourism industry may be prepared for the recovery, but it may not be ready to welcome all segments of the traveling public again.

Victoria’s tourism industry may be prepared for a recovery, but it may not be ready to welcome all segments of the traveling public again.

With the conversion of many hotels to senior residences or condominiums over the past decade and sales of hotels to provide a refuge for the homeless, the area has far fewer hotel rooms to accommodate all types of people. precipitation.

Hospitality consultant Frank Bourree said the area also lacks a number of non-hotel options as many short-term vacation rental properties have been taken off the market and converted to long-term rentals or sold, when revenues dried up during the pandemic.

“Victoria is going to have a hard time,” said Bourree, when asked if the region is ready to meet pent-up demand. “The last time we counted we had lost 22 hotels in the past 10 to 12 years.

In some cases, such as the Harbor Towers and Queen Victoria hotels, they have been converted into condominiums and apartments, while the Crystal Court Motel has been razed and rebuilt as a senior citizen residence.

Over the past year, three Victoria hotels, Paul’s Motor Inn, Capital City Center Hotel, and Comfort Inn and Suites, have been purchased by the provincial government to house the homeless.

Bourree estimates that this translates into the disappearance of 1,800 hotel rooms, most of them in the middle to lower market.

He said this could work in Victoria’s favor, as it means the city’s hotel mix is ​​now aimed at a high-performance traveler, the kind he says will be the first to travel when travel restrictions hit. will be deleted.

“This is a perfect segment for us,” he said, noting that we can no longer meet the needs of the lower segment of the market, like the traveling high school teams. “We just don’t have the rooms.

Paul Nursey, Managing Director of Destination Greater Victoria, is not so pessimistic.

“I wouldn’t say we have problems,” he said, pointing out that there are three hotel development apps – Broad Street, Wharf Street and Blanshard Street – in front of the city of Victoria and another in the city. study for Government Street.

Nursey said he has heard that more are being considered and that there may be time to put them all in place before a full recovery for the hospitality industry.

“I hope that the various municipal governments will have the wisdom to approve some of these projects, as investors and developers are once again looking into the hotel segment, which is exciting,” he said.

Nursey said the city is in demand and needs a mix of hotels that cater for all tastes and economic realities.

He said the city will never be a Kamloops, which prides itself on hosting amateur sports teams and tournaments that tend to use mid-range accommodation, but instead must offer a wide range.

“We are an integrated blend of business, convention, leisure and sports travel,” he said, noting that Victoria’s sport tourism tends to focus on international and domestic events.

Keith Wells, executive director of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission, said the city already has a good mix. “We’re well equipped,” he said, noting that the Pacific Cup Alumni Hockey Tournament manages to distribute hundreds of players to the region every year. His group is preparing to host 4,000 people for the BC Seniors Games this fall. “We’re doing pretty well considering the relatively small city that we are. “

Wells said that with plans for more hotels, sports tourism can plan with confidence, which includes preparing for an Invictus Games bid. This event would tax all hotels in the region and attract athletes, dignitaries and families from around the world.

“There is also such a disconnect with sport [tourism], “he said.” Everything I am working on now is for 2022, 2023 and 2024. The effects of our work will not be felt for a few years. “

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