Published on : Friday, January 29, 2021
When the pandemic struck, and whenDestination Greater Victoriagot through the immediate shock and started to plan deliberately, we realized the depths of winter 2020/2021 would be the most difficult part of the economic downturn. This is where we currently sit. On dark, short days with much of our book of business for the first three quarters of 2021 eroded and the need for government to focus on health care, it can be demoralizing for all of us who care deeply about our industry.
Our industry is usually upbeat this time of year, preparing for the months ahead with fresh contracts from wholesale tradeshows and working to fill gaps through short-haul marketing campaigns. It is important for many of us who are frustrated or worse, facing financial challenges, to be empathetic and as supportive as possible.
At Destination Greater Victoria we are remaining task-focused to support industry, preparing for recovery, and ensuring we out-compete other destinations when the opportunity opens. Our goal is to be a steady hand on the tiller and to bring all our skills to bear during recovery.
As attractive as it may be to “pivot” into new lines of business in the short term, our choice has been to stay very strong at our core business and deliver value. For example, we will continue to deliver significant and ongoing earned media coverage on the destination despite the health orders restricting travel. Even though international tour operators are not fully engaged at this time, our travel trade development manager has held dozens of product knowledge “lunch and learns” with domestic travel agencies and consortia to keep Greater Victoria top of mind where business is available.
We are also starting to see and bid on new RFPs for conferences and sporting events. This pace of business rebuilding will increase steadily as groups are able to gather again. However, we do not want to understate the scope of what we are facing. Although it is heartening to see some new business opportunities, business is far from what it was prior to 2020.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Greater Victoria Tourism Rescue and Recovery Task Force has worked diligently and collaboratively to engage governments of all levels to advance our industry’s cause, such as vital liquidity measures. It has had some success securing support, but also challenges and frustrations. Government supports have been and will continue to be helpful. But it is business revenues that will allow industry to recover.
Aside from vital aid and liquidity measures to help businesses through winter, the most important support we need from our government partners is a reliable, metrics-based pathway to reopening. 2021 will continue to be an unpredictable year. However, we have a general idea about what to expect. The first quarter will continue to be dire. We are hopeful that there will be slow, yet steady recovery in some segments beginning in the second quarter.
It will take much of 2021 to re-open many of the customer segments which were opened prior to the pandemic. By 2022 we expect to be largely open for business but with some remaining headwinds. Our 2021 Business Plan accounts for this, and our goal is to be nimble and task-focused through the weeks and months ahead.
Despite the challenges we face, we do know that we will start to emerge from this crisis. Recovery will take years, but the team at Destination Greater Victoria is focused, forward-looking and motivated.
Tags: Victoria tourism