Ben Duthie, sales and operations manager with Prince of Whales, stands outside their office in the Inner Harbour as a tour prepares to take off. The company has invested in a new catamaran that will be a sister ship to the environmentally friendly Salish Sea Dream. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Optimistic Victoria whale watching company invests in new vessel

Banner 2017 tourist season helps Prince of Whales decide to boost service

A banner 2018 tourism season has helped Prince of Whales make further investment into environmentally friendly equipment.

The company announced this week that it has placed an order for a sister ship to the Salish Sea Dream, a catamaran used by Prince of Whales for its Vancouver to Victoria day trips and on the Inner Harbour to Butchart Gardens combination tour.

The recent season saw the company have multiple sold-out days, especially on its Whales and Gardens tour, said Ben Duthie, sales and operations manager.

“The growth we saw in that product specifically … goes directly to the bottom line from an investment strategy, which gives us the ability to pursue new equipment, to repurpose the boats we have and to pursue more business in Vancouver,” he said.

The new vessel will have improved water jet technology to further reduce the noise and offer better efficiency. The catamarans have no propellers, drives or other machinery hanging below the hull, which the company says eliminates the risk of a marine mammal strike.

ABD Enterprises of North Vancouver has been contracted to build the second catamaran, which will launch in the spring of 2019 and be based in Victoria. There is also an option for a third vessel to launch in 2020, should demand continue to grow, Duthie said.

The 2017 season was said to be the best ever for the company in terms of sightings, particularly for humpbacks and transient orcas, with more than 100 unique transient killer whales observed.

Speaking to the optimism about continued growth in the industry shown by Prince of Whales, Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey pointed to the jump in the local conference business and the growth in shoulder season visits.

Where as recently as two years ago there might be a handful of people on annual site visits for the Victoria Conference Centre, he said, last year there were 42 participants and deals were closed with all of them.

“We’re now booking conferences into 2022 and 2023, thousands of people. So creating that long-term foundation on the conference side only helps the leisure side to grow,” he said.

Nursey pointed out that Victoria was just named the number 2 small city in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, ahead of such tourist hot spots as Dublin, Copenhagen and others.

“Global operators are now taking a look at Victoria, so for local operators, they have to up their game – they are upping their game, to make sure they offer the quality of service. This is a really smart move. Tourism will always be cyclical, but what we’re trying to build is a stronger and more resilient foundation and I think we’re getting there.”

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

New childcare in Langford looking for toddlers and teachers

Willowbrae Academy puts an emphasis on healthy living habits

Mike Hicks steps down as SEAPARC chairman

Sooke Coun. Al Beddows takes on position

GALLERY: Shots of the lunar eclipse from Victoria and beyond

Amateur and professional photographers capture the stunning celestial event

Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

VRBA director Casey Edge also questions Saanich’s commitment towards housing affordability

Saanich police are looking for a man who exposed himself Saturday night

The incident exposure happened at the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street

WATCH: Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Woman offers luxury Alberta home for just $25 and a flair for the written word

Alla Wagner ran into health problems, which forced her to list the 5,000-square-foot estate at market value

46% of Canadians $200 or less away from financial insolvency: poll

45% cent of those surveyed say they will need to go further into debt to pay their living and family expenses

Vancouver Island charity thrift store blackened by late night fire

All Too Good to be Threw profits were used to support Comox Valley Transition society programs

Vancouver Island to get its first publicly funded dementia village

Campus planned for Comox encourages independent activity, freedom to move

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Most Read