The latest international visitor numbers continue to show positive increases, which is good news for British Columbia’s flourishing tourism industry.
The number of overnight international visitors coming to British Columbia grew significantly for the first five months of 2016, according to Statistics Canada. From January to May, 1,650,703 visitors came to the province, resulting in a 14% increase over the same period last year.
In addition, 478,066 international visitors came to B.C. in May 2016, a 4.8% increase compared to May 2015.
There were increases in visitors from a number of markets in May over the same month in 2015, including:
- Mexico up 29%
- India up 11.7%
- China up 10.2%
- Europe up 5%
- United States up 4.9%
- Asia/Pacific up 2.3%
For the first five months of this year, visits from the U.S. were up almost 16% and visits from Mexico were up just over 38% over the same period last year.
“Once again, our tourism industry is benefitting from strong increases in international visitor numbers.” says Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. “This is great news for B.C.’s economy and the businesses and jobs that tourism helps support. These spring tourism numbers have set us up for continued growth through the summer season.”
Increased air access and additional flights to Vancouver contributed to growth from some 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. The new flights are thanks in part to a 2012 jet fuel tax that was eliminated by government to reduce costs for airlines and to 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 B.C. This exceeds the BC Jobs Plan target of 300 Aboriginal owned tourism businesses by 2017.
“May was another strong month from many of our key markets. Outstanding growth from Mexico can partially be attributed to Aeromexico’s new daily flight between Mexico City and Vancouver, which launched in December,” says Brenda Baptiste,chair and CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia. “It is also encouraging to see continued strength from the US, our biggest international market. We see good growth from U.S. visitors who drive into B.C. – considered our short-haul, touring market — as well as from high-yield, long-haul visitors who fly into B.C.”
- The tourism industry is helping fuel the provincial economy, which is expected to lead the country in economic growth in 2016 and 2017.
- Tourism supports approximately 19,000 businesses and 127,500 employees in B.C. and is a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan.
- The Province invests more than $90 million annually in the tourism sector across every region to grow and market the sector.
- In 2015, 4.9 million international visitors came to B.C., an 8% increase compared to 2014.