Tuesday, 3 July 2012

a little cycling tourism please

Not long ago, while at an Oak Bay Council meeting, I heard the mayor comment—based on his observation some weeks earlier of a large group of bikes parked at Ottavio's—that we should give more thought to the economic benefits of cycle tourism.

This is a topic I have been curious about ever since I attended a conference that my husband helped to organize in Victoria last year. While there, I struck up a conversation with an attendee from Seattle; he had his bike with him and was planning to go for a ride the next day but didn't seem to know any good routes. Neither the conference organizers nor the hotel had thought to include cycling-related information in the registration packages. This is not a good sign for a region that considers itself to be Canada's cycling capital. 

So with both encounters in mind, I went looking for information. Turns out that the economic benefit of cycling is not a new concept, but it is certainly drawing more attention these days. 

One Cycle (an international cycling non-profit organization) says that cycle tourism received little attention in the past because vendors assumed that tourists with bikes were not wealthy enough to target; other service providers, such as transit operators, thought cyclists were a hassle. 

These perspectives have started to change with the retirement of the baby boom generation. They are for the most part healthy and/or looking for ways to stay healthy, and—guess what!—cycling, it turns out, is a big draw. According to a One Cycle studycycling tourists have more money/higher incomes than most tourists. They are realizing that bikes are both good for their health, and a good way to explore the country

Another study, by Bike on Tours Consulting in Ontario, concluded that there are several things that help attract cyclists to an area, including the following:  

  • bicycle-friendly streets and paths, wide enough for bicycles and other users
  • access to scenic roads, natural areas, waterfront, cultural and historic attractions
  • good restaurants
  • accommodation with a hearty breakfast, either provided or nearby
  • bicycle repair shops and other interesting stores
  • adequate and secure bicycle parking
  • theatre, music and arts festivals
  • route maps and effective advertising

Oak Bay has the scenery, bike shops, restaurants, and interesting stores, but needs to make some focused efforts if it is to become a full-fledged biking destination. Can we do it? What else do we need? How do we engage Tourism Oak Bay in making this a priority?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carol,

    Here are some studies highlighting the economic impacts of cycle tourism...

    Millions in Tourism Dollars brought into BC by Bike (Studies Highlight Economic Value of Bicycle Tourism in British Columbia)2012

    Sea to Sky Mountain Biking
    Economic Impact Study (Western Canada Mtn Bike Tourism Association)


    The evidence is available to rationalize and benefit from investing in cycling infrastructure and tourism development.

    Ray Freeman