Clipper visits bring boost to economy

Once again, the Victoria Clipper will be making stops this spring, bringing hundreds of visitors for two-hour stops to downtown Coupeville.

The gray whale touring boat started incorporating the two-hour Coupeville lunch break into tours four years ago.

Coupeville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynda Eccles said the partnership is a great way to bring people and extra money into the town.

In 2014, the Clipper will arrive at approximately noon and leave at 2 p.m. on April 5-6, April 12-13, April 26-27, May 4 and May 10-11. On May 17-18, there will be a 4 p.m. arrival and 6 p.m. departure. The boat docks at Coupeville Wharf, where they are greeted by members of the chamber.

Eccles said she sends the touring company electronic versions of a Coupeville map and dining information, which is printed and provided to customers when they board the boat.

“We make it easy for them,” Eccles said.

Passengers then have two hours to explore downtown, get a bite to eat and do some shopping. In the later sailings, Eccles said the farmers market also sees visitors.

Each boat can bring up to 200 people, but Eccles said numbers usually run anywhere from 160-180 people.

“It’s a pretty good amount of people,” she said. “If you figure $10 per person for lunch. That doesn’t include the shopping and the ice creams they get or the coffees.”

In 2013, Coupeville hosted 12 sailings with 1,734 passengers.

“It’s fun and I’m proud we got it here,” Eccles said. “We have actually had people come back and stay.

“All the promotion and time we put into greeting is worth it.”