B.C. spring tourism growth highest on record
The number of international visitors to British Columbia went over the one million mark for the first few months of 2016 according to the latest statistics.
From January to April, 1,172,637 visitors came to B.C., resulting in an 18.2% increase over the same period last year.
April also experienced exceptional growth as 328,006 visitors travelled to British Columbia. This is a 21% increase over April of 2015 (271,136 visitors same month last year). This is the highest number of visitors to B.C. on record for all the months of April over the last 10 years.
British Columbia experienced growth in international overnight entries from some of its key markets in April over the same month in 2015, including: Germany up 33.4%;China up 32.9%;South Korea up 31.9%; Mexico up 28%; Australia up 26.4%; U.S. up 22.1%; Japan up 9.3%; India up 6.8%; and United Kingdom up 0.7%.
The strong growth in visitors from China, South Korea and Mexico is partly due to increased air access/additional flights to Vancouver from those countries. Each new daily international flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) creates between 150 and 200 new jobs at the airport, plus more jobs in B.C.’s hotels, tourism attractions and businesses, a Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour press release noted.
The new flights are thanks in part to a 2012 jet fuel tax eliminated by government to reduce costs for airlines and give travellers more choice.
Provincial tourism growth has also been helped by the low Canadian dollar along with Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy.
Another factor for the exceptional growth in tourism in B.C. is Aboriginal tourism. It is one of the fastest-growing tourism areas in the province. It experienced a doubling of revenue from $20 million to $42 million (2006-2012). In addition, there are more than 300 Aboriginal tourism businesses in British Columbia. This exceeds the BC Jobs Plan target of 300 Aboriginal owned tourism businesses by 2017.
“These double digit increases show that our province is becoming a destination of choice year-round for international travelers. Whether visitors come to enjoy amazing outdoor activities, immersing themselves in an Aboriginal cultural experience, shopping or dining in our incredible restaurants these experiences have put B.C. on the travel radar for visitors world-wide. The spring tourism figures provide us with a snapshot of what should shape up to be continued growth in tourism for the summer season,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.
“It’s another phenomenal year for tourism in British Columbia. The hard work and dedication on the part of thousands of British Columbians involved within the tourism sector is helping to support almost 130 thousand jobs in the province. Tourism is a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan and a big reason why B.C. is leading the Canadian economy,” said Greg Kyllo, Parliamentary Secretary for the BC Jobs Plan to the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training.
Marsha Walden, CEO Destination British Columbia added,”2016 is shaping up to be an amazing year for tourism in British Columbia. Even before we hit peak summer season, we see strong hotel occupancy rates and room revenues, fuelled by a huge rise in overnight visitors from Mexico, the US and other key markets. We are inspiring both international travellers and Canadian residents to really explore our super, natural province this summer.”
Tourism supports approximately 18,682 businesses and 127,500 employees in B.C.
In 2015, 4.9 million international visitors came to B.C. – an 8% increase compared to 2014.