Nanaimo Airport continues to push the boundary for traffic.
Nearly 22,000 passengers passed through YCD in September, a 19-per-cent increase over the same month a year ago.
The data was just released in the latest monthly tourism industry bulletin from Victoriabased Chemistry Consulting. In its latest report, the firm reports a passenger count of 21,998 for September, up from 16,615 in September, 2012.
Performance in other areas of tourism was not as stellar - hotel occupancy rates were flat compared to last year, and B.C. Ferries traffic also fell. Conference activity improved slightly, but not enough to turn around Still, the sector remains in positive territory, with air travel seeing the greatest improvement, with 5,383 more passengers, yearover year.
"We're seeing a lot of folks coming to B&Bs, as well as realtors, talking to people from Calgary, interested in purchasing property here," said Sasha Angus, Nanaimo Economic Development Corp.
It reflects the addition of direct flights with WestJet, a situation Angus expects to only get better if talks to get direct flights to Seattle bear fruit.
"From a tourism perspective that would be fantastic," said Angus.
Flights to Sea-Tac Airport would open the door to lower cost flights for Nanaimo travelers, and give American travelers direct flights to the mid-Island.
"And Seattle has a burgeoning technology sector as well," Angus said.
"We have a number of people with business ties there already, which we would be expanding."
One, Privateer Holdings, proposes to start an industrial cannabis production plant at Duke Point, and "they would be very encouraged by direct flights between Seattle and Nanaimo," Angus said.
"For tourism, technology and just business in general there is significant impact."
Other sectors of tourism slipped a bit in September, however, after seeing a sizable jump over summer.
"July and August the weather was obviously off the charts. We had a lot of folks with lastminute bookings, which made for a great August. September, obviously, was a rougher month for weather, but. .. in September people aren't taking holidays or shopping as much."
B.C. Ferries' Departure Bay route saw 4,000 fewer passengers travel in September, a four-per cent drop, with a similar drop on the Duke Point route.
"We saw a decline with B.C. Ferries, but the airport was way up," Angus said.
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