The first part of 2016 brings more good news for B.C. tourism. The latest international visitor numbers show that tourism visitation is up 16.8% during the first three months of 2016 with 121,306 more visitors to the province over the same period last year.
The number of international visitors in March is up 19.6% over March 2015, representing an additional 50,299 visitors to British Columbia. Visitors from the first three months are coming from a number of key markets:
- France up 51.6%
- Mexico up 45.2%
- U.S. up 20.1%
- Japan up 13.3%
- South Korea up 10.1%
- China up 7.8%
- Germany up 6.2%
- Australia up 4.7%
- India up 2.5%
- United Kingdom up 1.1%
Provincial tourism growth is helped by a number of factors including the low Canadian dollar, Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy, more direct flights to B.C. and outstanding conditions at the province’s ski resorts.Tourism in British Columbia is going from strength to strength. We are coming off one of the best ski seasons in years, hotel occupancy rates and room revenues are on the rise, provincial restaurant receipts are up, and tourism businesses are reporting stronger bookings as we head into summer. By all accounts, 2016 is off to a fantastic start. “ Marsha Walden, CEO Destination British Columbia said.
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.
The strong growth in visitors from Mexico is partly due to a new non-stop, daily Aeromexico flight between Mexico City and Vancouver that started in December 2015.
Continued growth from Japan is helped by the new Air Canada seasonal flight to Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.
Each new daily international flight to B.C. creates between 150 and 200 new jobs at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). An additional 300 to 400 jobs are created indirectly in the province at businesses such as hotels, restaurants, travel agents and tour operators.
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 19,200 businesses and 127,500 employees in British Columbia, and is a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan. These numbers continue an increasing trend. In 2015 B.C. hosted 4.9 international visitors a 7.9% increase over 2014.