Nanaimo, B.C., expects busy tourism season this summer

Nanaimo, B.C., is pictured. (CTV News)

Tourism season officially kicks off on May 1 in Nanaimo, and 2022 is expected to be a very good year for the industry.

"We are excited to welcome visitors back to Nanaimo," says Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, interim executive director for Tourism Nanaimo. "It’s such a beautiful place to be in the summertime."

One of the reasons Tourism Nanaimo expects a strong season is that other parts of the island are essentially already booked, and the city plans on capitalizing on that.

"We are hopeful people will elect to start in Nanaimo and they can use this as their jumping off point," says Houtby-Ferguson.

"Being centrally located in the Mid-Island region, it’s really accessible to go to other parts of the island," she says.

Tourism Nanaimo has established itineraries on its website, which it continues to develop. The idea is to assist travellers as they explore Nanaimo, and the group plans to start incorporating other parts of the region as well, such as Gabriola Island, the Cowichan Valley and the Parksville-Qualicum regions.

"We recognize that when people come to the central Vancouver Island region that they might like to explore beyond. But they can stay here in Nanaimo and make an easy day trip," says Houtby-Ferguson.

Indigenous tourism is also becoming a big draw for people visiting B.C., and Saysutshun, formally known as Newcastle Island, will be welcoming people back early this season.

"It’s really an amazing opportunity for people to connect with the Snuneymuxw and Coast Salish people," says Houtby-Ferguson.

Starting May 1, people can start taking the seven-minute ferry ride from Maffeo Sutton park in downtown Nanaimo to Saysutshun.

The ferry service will begin running from Thursdays through Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Then. on May 15, the ferry will run seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Extensive trail work has been done as well as the facilities have been repaired and upgraded during the off-season.

Saysutshun sees on average of about 20,000 people a year who come to the island via their ferry service.

"Then probably another 20,000 to 30,000 people who come on their own floating device," says Clark.

More information about Saysutshun and their ferry service can be found on the island's website