Thursday, September 17, 2020

Tourism recap highlights impact of COVID on Prince Rupert's tourism in 2020

Partnerships proved key to navigating a challenging 2020 tourism season for Prince Rupert, with the summer visitations significantly lower this year as COVID-19 changed the focus towards closer to home tourism.

With our neighbours from the Northwest dropping in for short visits as opposed to previous years and the more expansive tourism programs that the area offered.

As we outlined back in July, the volume of visitors to the Prince Rupert Visitor Information Centre in the Atlin Terminal was down significantly at the midpoint  of the tourist season and and things did not change much through rainy Augusts, despite the relaxation of travel rules in BC

All of which highlighted rather dramatically the difference between  the volume of travel found in 2020 compared to 2019.

With the Cruise Industry shut down for the year, as well as the closing of the North Pacific Cannery Historical site for the 2020 tourism season, two of the key drivers for the industry in the Prince Rupert area were taken off the list, making for new initiatives to at least keep a light on in the tourism window, with hopes for a return to more familiar results in the year ahead.

“This summer tourism season felt quite different from past years in Prince Rupert, and there’s no doubt that many local businesses and tour operators were challenged to operate at their usual capacity while following the recommended health & safety guidelines. The tourism sector is resilient, but we have a long way to go to recover to pre-2019 levels. Tourism Prince Rupert is dedicated to supporting the recovery of our local tourism sector by continuing to advocate for tourism relief, marketing our community in new and creative ways where possible, listening to our residents and stakeholders, and partnering with local businesses to offer support and additional resources. We thank all of the incredible local businesses who partnered with us this year and salute their dedication and tireless efforts to weather this storm.” - Ceilidh Marlow, Executive Director, Tourism Prince Rupert 

When it comes to the snapshot of the 2020 tourism season compared to the one last year, the statistical review highlights somewhat dramatically the impact that COVID had on one of Prince Rupert's key economic sectors.

Visitor Information Centre numbers:
July 2019: 6,166 
July 2020: 1,863 

August 2019: 6,360 
August 2020: 1,621 

From the data review from the summer, Ceilidh Marlow, the Executive Director of Tourism Prince Rupert noted they had an Average of 90 visitors per day through July & August pass through the Visitor Information Centre.

The Majority of guests exploring the Atlin Terminal centre this summer were from British Columbia, with most self-identifying as from Northern BC · 

The main areas of interest for the visitors this year were charter fishing, bear & whale watching, and local dining recommendations.

When it comes to their main summer initiative of the See for Yourself Campaign  the findings for the program looked as follows:

Partnering with 21 local businesses, including the Crest Hotel, Wheelhouse Brewing, Fukasaku of Prince Rupert, the Argosy, LeBlanc Boutique, and many more brought many in the business community together this year. 

The See for Yourself campaign ran for 6 weeks until August 17th, 2020, and used social media advertising, organic social media, & email newsletters to highlight a variety of exclusive deals and promotions. 

All paid advertising was limited to the Northern BC region, and linked back to a campaign landing page where interested locals and visitors could select the promotions that interested them and request more information. 

The promotion details were then sent by email, along with an exclusive coupon to be used when redeeming the promotion. This process allowed Prince Rupert Tourism to efficiently track not only engagement with our campaign advertising, but also the specific number of conversions for each business promotion. 

In total, the campaign reached over 150,000 unique social media users, generated 373,000 impressions and 9,443 engagements, and directed over 3,400 hits to our campaign landing page. 

Combined with over 2,400 eyes on our email promotions, this activity generated 551 requests for more information about the promotions offered by our local businesses. 

As they head into the fall and plan for tourism recovery in 2021, Tourism Prince Rupert notes that they will be working carefully in partnership with nearby communities to market our region safely as well as to promote key local events such as Craft Beer Month in October and the holiday shopping season. 

They will also continue with their advocacy work to ensure that Prince Rupert maintains its important role as a key transportation gateway, supporting efforts to have both ferry & air transportation resumed to full service levels in 2021.

As they look ahead to next year Tourism Prince Rupert will launch some early efforts to plan for their 2021 marketing efforts, as well as to work closely with the Prince Rupert Port Authority to plan for the 2021 cruise season, a key component of our local tourism sector that will be crucial to its long-term recovery.

You can explore more of their notes on a challenging 2020 season here.

Track all of the travel related themes through their Facebook page

More notes related to Tourism on the North Coast can be explored here.

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