Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce manager Bill Collette says tourist numbers are up this year, thanks to Tofino and Ucluelet, but not in the usual sense.
He says tourists are figuring out it’s a lot cheaper to make Port Alberni their base as they explore the west coast and the mid-island area.
“We’ve really benefited from the challenges on the west coast; Tofino and Ucluelet you can’t find a place to stay, so people are staying here'” said Collette. “And then they’re staying here longer because they’re enjoying it and they realize there’s things to do here.”
Collette says tourist numbers were up by 60% at the start of the year and remained strong through the second quarter.
He said their preliminary July numbers are showing a slight decrease, which he believes was due to a shortage of volunteer ambassadors greeting visitors at Cathedral Grove and other area tourist hotspots