VICTORIA - International visitor arrivals' statistics are indicating strong growth in key tourism markets - figures that are especially welcome as Tourism BC shifts its marketing efforts to focus on B.C.'s upcoming ski season.
August 2012 International Overnight Custom Entries to B.C., released by Statistics Canada, shows a 6.0 per cent overall growth compared to August 2011 and a 1.4 per cent growth year-to-date. In 2011, August represented 14.9 per cent of annual visitation.
Overnight entries from the U.S. experienced a 7.2 per cent increase compared to August 2011. This is an especially encouraging development as the Canadian dollar and gas prices remain high and economic recovery in the U.S. remains slow.
Earlier this month, Tourism BC launched its 2012-2013 ski marketing campaign, aimed at long-haul visitors, including skiers from California and Ontario. Representatives from B.C.'s 13 ski resorts actively participated in the development of the campaign, which focuses on the quality and abundance of B.C. snow.
According to Canada West Ski Areas Association, in 2011-2012 there were 6.4 million skier visits to B.C., up 2 per cent from the previous year. The success of the ski industry is vital to British Columbia's economy, producing revenues of $1.1 billion, a GDP of $730.9 million and 14,267 full-time jobs in the 2007-08 season.
International visitors spend over $3 billion each year in B.C. In 2010, 4.4 million international overnight visitors came to B.C., accounting for 28 per cent of overall visitor volume but nearly 40 per cent of visitor expenditures.
Tourism is one of the key economic sectors identified in Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan. Gaining the Edge, the B.C. government's tourism strategy, provides a framework for government and industry to work together to attract more visitors and create jobs for British Columbians.
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour -
"In a time of global economic uncertainty, B.C. is seeing positive overall growth in this key industry. Our government has made a commitment to take tourism from a $13.4-billion industry to an $18-billion industry by 2016. As Canada's gateway to expanding middle classes in Asia, we believe this is a highly achievable goal. By continuing to work with industry partners on projects like our recently released "Ski It To Believe It" campaign, I'm confident we'll see tremendous growth in this important industry for years to come."
Highlights from August 2012 International Overnight Custom Entries to B.C.
- Visitations from China in August 2012 were up 18.7 per cent compared to August 2011. In August 2012, China represented 3.7 per cent of our total international overnight entries and 12.6 per cent of all overseas entries to B.C. China's Sichuan Airlines started a new three-flights-a-week service to Vancouver in June 2012. In August 2012, of the 41,464 overnight entries from China to Canada, 59.1 per cent entered through B.C.
- Despite the volatility in Europe's economy and the diverting effect on outbound travel brought on by the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games starting in late July, B.C. saw an increase in visitors from the U.K., up 3.1 per cent over August 2011 and up 0.6 per cent year-to-date.
Gaining the Edge tourism strategy: http://www.jti.gov.bc.ca/tourismstrategy/documents/MJTI_TourismStrategyReport_FNL.pdf
Tourism BC's 2012-2013 Ski Campaign: www.skiittobelieveit.com
Ski Campaign launch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6GzYh2mH8o&list=UUpS9F8iOFksvPuYByurAvBQ&index=1&feature=plpp_video
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training