High U.S. dollar, strong economy means hot spring for tourism in B.C.
Tourism sector could be on pace for record year in Victoria
In Victoria, in particular, the tourism industry may be on pace for a record year.
"Summer business in April is very unusual. We're not used to it," Sobolewski said. "We have to up the intensity of what's going on. More staff, more supplies. It's been a bit of a scramble."
The nice weather has been a huge plus, but Sobolewski believes the biggest difference this year is the lower value of the Canadian dollar and the impact it's had on American visitors.
"You can kind of hear where they're from," he said.
Hotels get big boost from American bookings
At Abigail's Hotel, a 23-room upscale bed and breakfast in a restored Tudor mansion, marketing manager Allison Fairhurst says occupancy is running higher than usual for visitors from the U.S.
Tourism Victoria's Paul Nursey says the low Canadian dollar is obviously a draw for U.S. visitors, but he cautions many actually aren't even aware of how far their dollar will go until they arrive here.
"We're really excited to see the recovery of the U.S. economy," said Nursey. "So we think this is a sustainable growth, not tied to the ups and downs of the dollar."
U.S. economy likely driving growth in tourism
Fishing guide Gord Martin of Foghorn Charters says he's also looking forward to a strong summer, but like Nursey, he suggests the strength of the U.S. economy is a bigger factor than the dollar.
Martin, who's been finding early success with halibut this spring, operates out of the West Bay Marina in Victoria's Inner Harbour.
He says his Canadian customer base is also strong, perhaps because many repeat clients from B.C. and out east are choosing Canadian holidays this summer.
"The Alberta market has been good and I think it still will be good. Even with the price of oil on the decline. They've had a lot of good years."