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Royals, golfers, politicians provide economic punch for Greater Victoria

Posted on September 26, 2016

Photos of a Harbour Air float plane are appearing around the world after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew on a return trip from Victoria to Vancouver.

And that’s the kind of product placement money just can’t buy.

“It was very exciting for us to do that, very rewarding, and it was executed flawlessly,” said Randy Wright, the airline’s vice-president of business and corporate development.

Financial impacts large and small, immediate and long-term are reaching a diverse group of businesses involved in the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to British Columbia and the Yukon.

Tourism-related businesses are also counting benefits from the PGA Tour Champions Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship which wrapped up on Sunday and attracted thousands of visitors and an international viewing audience. As well, the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention, with nearly 2,000 participants, runs from Monday through to Friday this week.

Extra planes were brought in to serve demand resulting from all three events, Wright said. Golf tournament visitors also booked charters through the airline.

The royal visit is being documented by a group of media that is 500 strong — and they are filling hotels and restaurants, taking tours and spending in shops. The same goes for the thousands of visitors who flocked here to watch the royals and an international slate of some of the world’s best golfers.

Frank Bourree, principal of Chemistry Consulting, predicts this will be the tourism’s industry strongest September on record, with several hotels booked solid. Hospitality numbers in September typically drop by 25 per cent from August, but the three events have kept tourism operators busy, he said.

One popular royals photo shows Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, stepping down from a Twin Otter seaplane onto the dock where Prince William was standing when they arrived in Vancouver on Sunday.

Getting ready for the royals was a “big undertaking,” Wright said. Many discussions were held with government bodies, security officials and representatives of Kensington Palace, the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. English officials took a 10-minute tour in a Harbour Air plane.

Everything was polished, including the propeller spinners, to get the aircraft “sparkling clean,” Wright said.

Paul Nursey, Tourism Victoria president and chief executive, said most hotels are sold out thanks to the special events. The destination marketing group is using these events to show that Victoria can easily handle conferences. Already, six new requests have come in for potential meeting business, Nursey said.

Themed tours have been lined up for media, giving them the opportunity to go whale-watching, visit wineries and Butchart Gardens and tour neighbourhoods.

Nursey said global exposure from news outlets, such as Hello!Canada and People magazine shows off the coast and Canada. Tourism Victoria is recording its own video to use in future promotions.

Kensington Palace, which has more than 770,000 followers on Twitter, is sending out photos from the trip.

Vancouver Island Salt Co.’s phone started ringing Monday morning, just minutes after a television show broadcast a reference to it being used in food being served to the royal couple in Kelowna, said Andrew Shepherd, who owns the salt company with three others. “It feels great and validates all the hard work,” he said.

Victoria’s Finest At Sea Ocean Products was tapped to supply 20 kilograms of sablefish for the royal meal in Kelowna.

Company vice-president Paul Chadwick credits the events for strong seafood orders from local restaurants and hotels this month.

Meanwhile, Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates can sign up for extra activities including a three-hour sail, a visit to Butchart Gardens, whale-watching, a Thai cooking class at the London Chef, wine tasting and a kayak tour.

At the Inn at Laurel Point in James Bay, the 196-room hotel is fully booked, with accredited media for the royal tour and provincial civic politicians staying there.

One of the hotel’s meeting rooms is the official media room for accredited news media on the royal tour. Everything is going smoothly, said Avril Matthews, hotel spokeswoman. “It has been fantastic from a destination perspective to have the eyes of the world on the city,” she said.

Story by: Carla Wilson