Visitor numbers up, strategy updated to continue momentum
The BC Government said in a media release Monday, that the tourism sector in the provincie continues to show growth in international overnight visitors.
The report said there were an additional 72,085 visitors in July 2015 compared to 2014 – representing a 9.9% increase over July 2014.
This brings the total number of visitors to B.C. in the January to July period up by 228,950 visitors or 8.8% over the same period last year.
The report said this month’s entries show increases in a number of important markets. The number of visitors from our province’s largest international market, the United States, rose 11.6%, with an additional 56,182 visitors over July 2014.
Other regions showing increases include China (up 8.3%), Japan (up 12.5%), and India (up 15.6%).
“Tourism is a key economic driver and job creator in British Columbia and helps keep our province strong, diverse and growing,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.
“The growth in international visitor numbers shows our plan is working. I’m confident that our strategies are going to keep the momentum going and with Destination BC as a partner we can be sure that every region of the province benefits.”
The province said B.C.’s tourism sector and visitor numbers have been strong through the summer, and to ensure that momentum continues into future years, government has updated its provincial Tourism Strategy, Gaining the Edge: 2015-2018.
This strategy maximizes government’s $90-million annual investment in the tourism sector and leverages significant provincial investments in transportation infrastructure, BC Parks, recreation sites and trails, culture and heritage, small business supports, landmark attractions and hosting programs.
Alignment is a key theme in the strategy, with a focus on marketing efforts and cross-government investments to develop and enhance B.C.’s current and future tourism assets. The updated Gaining the Edge strategy will ensure better support for increased visitor numbers and tourist spending in British Columbia and enhance the province’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability.
In keeping with this theme, Destination BC will begin a new, three-year base funding model for the community visitor services network that ensures stable and predictable distribution of funding following extensive consultation with their partners.
The strategy includes a new minimum base funding of $10,000 annually for the next three years for small and rural community visitor centres as well as an innovation fund available to assist communities with projects that help them adapt to the changing needs and expectations of visitors, including through the use of technology.
“These numbers confirm what we have been hearing from industry all summer – it has been an outstanding season for tourism in British Columbia,” said Marsha Walden, CEO, Destination British Columbia.
“Looking ahead, the funding model for the community-based Visitor Services Network and the new Innovation Fund will ensure that visitor services exceed the expectations of the travelling public, delivering information where and when they need it.”
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.
- In 2014, there were almost a quarter of a million (234,079) more visitors coming from outside the country than in 2013 – a 5.3% increase.
- The Province supports Destination BC, an industry-led Crown corporation. Destination BC works closely with tourism stakeholders, marketing the province as a tourist destination and promoting the development and growth of the tourism industry.
- Since 2003, tourism sector employment in B.C. has grown 17.6% and tourism wages and salaries have increased by more than 34.4% ($4.5 billion in 2013).
- In 2013, the tourism sector employed 132,200 British Columbians – that’s about 1 in every 15 jobs in B.C – and 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.