The Hornby Island Community Economic Enhancement Corporation (HICEEC) is spearheading a program to offer free ferry fares to the island’s shoulder-season visitors.
After attempts to partner with BC Ferry’s Vacation division proved unsuccessful, HICEEC decided to “go on their own”. In an innovative pilot project, HICEEC will remit the thru fare for a car, driver, and one passenger from the Vancouver Island terminal at Buckley Bay to Hornby Island, for visitors who book a stay of at least 3 nights during the period from Aug. 26 to Sept. 26.
“We recognize the perception that ferries seem to make it harder these days to get to our island. So we decided to take the ferry fares out of the equation for this promotion,” said Karen Ross, HICEEC’s business co-ordinator.
The majority of the participating properties are vacation rentals, and bookings will be made directly with the owners. The owners will then notify HICEEC to send out a BCF Experience Card, and welcome letter, to the renter.
The promotion is being run in co-operation with www.hornbyisland.com, a website owned in a private/public partnership between HICEEC and young entrepreneur Jake Berman.
“We are implementing a ‘discounted rate’ legend item in a different colour on the www.hornbyisland.com website’s availability calendar, to identify properties that are participating in the promotion,” said Berman.
HICEEC will invest in a targeted advertising campaign using both online and hardcopy ads on Vancouver Island to promote the deal, which is designed as an economic stimulator for the Island’s shoulder season.
Ross is excited about the free ferry ride promotion and the savings it will provide to travellers who want to see Hornby in the non-peak season. She points out that in early fall, the Island still offers great weather, beckoning beaches, welcoming accommodation, and a rich network of trails for hiking/biking, but without the midsummer hustle and bustle.
“As far as we know, none of the other Gulf Islands have put forward a promotion like this, saving visitors money and gaining support for events like the Sept. 11 Fall Fair , September Farmers Markets and self directed shopping & dining tours,” said Ross. “As a bonus, people get to ride the newest, longest cable ferry in the world for free to get here!”