BRITISH Columbia is showing strong growth in international overnight visitors with overall numbers up by an additional 34,785 visitors or 8.3% over May 2014, and year-to-date up by 103,993 visitors or 7.8% over the same period last year.
Statistics Canada figures show an increase in international overnight visitors across many important markets, an important indicator of tourism industry growth.
Leading the way from the Asia-Pacific region, visitors from Japan are up 17.5% over last May, and from South Korea up 8.6%. Visitors from New Zealand are up 15.6% and up 14.3% from India.
Growth from the United States, B.C.’s largest international market, was up 9.3%, with an additional 24,760 visitors over May 2014.
Visitors from Europe were up 13.1% over last May, including France up 46.1%, the Netherlands up 36.1%, Switzerland up 35% and Germany up 25.5%.
This solid growth in the tourism sector is due to a number of factors, including a strong U.S. dollar, lower fuel prices and increased flight capacity to B.C. Tourism is also about opportunity – by capitalizing on strong markets and strategic marketing investments, B.C.’s visitor economy is outperforming the rest of Canada.
This positive growth builds on solid growth last year, with a 5.3% increase in international visitors overall in 2014 – almost a quarter of a million (234,079) more visitors coming from outside the country than the year before.
These increases in visitor numbers help support over 19,000 businesses and 132,000 jobs in the tourism sector in B.C.
As a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan, tourism is an important economic driver in the province. B.C.’s tourism sector is strong and growing – which is good news in light of fierce global competition for tourists. In 2013, the tourism industry generated $13.9 billion in revenue and a direct contribution to B.C.’s gross domestic product of $7.3 billion, accounting for 4% of the Province’s total GDP.
The numbers reported by Statistics Canada include international visitors who cross Canada customs in B.C. Actual numbers of visitors to B.C. are higher, as people crossing into the province from elsewhere in the country are not included in these figures.
Destination British Columbia’s International Visitor Arrivals publications summarize customs entry data to B.C. and Canada from select markets of origin. The publications include information for both the particular month and the year to-date, and include percentage changes for the same period over the previous year.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, said: “Tourism is a key sector in our BC Jobs Plan and is one of B.C.’s top job creating industries. 2014 is the third year in a row we have seen an increase in international visitor numbers and it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be another good year for this important industry. We are working hard to ensure that even more people know that B.C. is a world-class tourism destination so that we continue to grow visitor numbers and keep our diverse economy strong and growing.”
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business, said: “Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing that this spring and early summer was looking very strong on the tourism front, and the increases in international visitor numbers appear to back that up. B.C. is an exciting tourism destination that delivers a wide range of outstanding experiences, adventures and service to those who visit, and should be a must-see on your global travel list.”
Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination British Columbia, said: “Destination BC’s new strategy and marketing plan supports communities and businesses to provide even more remarkable experiences for our visitors – increasing repeat visitation and recommendations of B.C.’s tourism experiences, which is the most persuasive form of marketing. Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy today and B.C. is well positioned to take full advantage of the social, cultural and economic benefits it provides.”
- The Province invests about $90 million annually in the tourism sector.
- The Province works with Destination British Columbia, an industry-led, Crown corporation that works with tourism stakeholders throughout the province to strategically lead the marketing of B.C. as a tourist destination and promote the development and growth of the tourism industry.
- Since its launch in 2013, Destination British Columbia’s successes include the release of its three-year corporate strategy, revitalizing the Super, Natural British Columbia® tourism brand, and implementing innovative new marketing approaches, such as the Wild Within brand video which received international recognition at the 14th Annual ITB Travel Trade Show in Berlin in March 2015.
- In 2013, the tourism sector employed 132,200 British Columbians – that’s about one in every 15 jobs in B.C.
- In 2013, the tourism industry paid $4.5 billion in wages and salaries to tourism workers, an increase of 3.8% over the year before.
- There are more than 19,200 tourism-related businesses in B.C., and over 17,000 (almost 93%) are small businesses with less than 50 employees.