In the heart of tourist season, when massive cruise ships dock in Victoria, Fisherman's Wharf is a vibrant place.
The charming seaside spot is home to businesses that have successfully targeted tourists for years. But with their bread-and-butter clients gone, business owners are turning to locals for help.
"We're here, we are plugging away,” says Ryan Agnew, manager of Pirate Pizza Co. “Businesses are opening and we're ready to serve you.”
Agnew, whose business opened just as the pandemic closed borders and slowed travel, says he and other tourist-based businesses need islanders to retake areas they may have avoided.
"Fisherman's Wharf is a beautiful, special place," Agnew tells CTV News.
"A lot of locals tend to avoid some of the tourist areas and we just want to let them know that we are down here and maybe take some time to rediscover your local areas,” he says.
On Thursday, Vancouver Island’s the tourist sector was dealt a heavy blow.
The federal government announced it would continue its ban on large cruise ship traffic until February 28, 2022.
According to statistics from a 2016 study conducted by the cruise ship sector, Victoria's cruise ship industry is worth roughly $130 million a year to the local economy.
The lion's share of that money is spent when cruisers leave the vessel and flood areas like Fisherman's Wharf and the downtown core.
"I think about the operators who barely got through a season without a cruise in 2020 and now will have to deal with another season," says Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Ian Robertson.
The harbour authority, which oversees Victoria's cruise ship industry, says it too is looking for options to weather another season without ships.
The organization says it is looking for clients to rent out its three deepwater berths in James Bay.
The authority says in the past companies have used their docks to maintain large vessels.