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B.C.’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry continues to grow

New annual international visitor arrival statistics show that in 2016, British Columbia saw a total of 5,532,065 million visitors – an increase of 12.3% accounting for 605,198 more visitors compared to 2015.

The positive impact of increasing international visitor numbers to B.C. is supported in a new study of the economic value of tourism to British Columbia. The “Value of Tourism in British Columbia: A Snapshot of 2015” shows tourism generated $15.7 billion in tourism revenues for 2015, a 5.3% increase over 2014, proving the sector is a major economic driver for the province. The study was produced by BC Stats for Destination BC.

Following the release of new record-breaking visitor numbers, the Province is outlining a new funding formula for its tourism marketing Crown agency Destination BC that ensures stability and provides the opportunity for sustained growth.

To ensure the momentum in B.C.’s tourism sector continues, the Province has outlined a new funding formula for Destination BC that ensures stability and sustainability for the future. The new funding model will protect the annual base funding of $50 million, and will allow for ongoing increases tied to both Destination BC performance and the success of the tourism sector. This means that there is an opportunity over the next six years for Destination BC’s annual base budget to increase by $5 million over what it is today – and that number could continue to grow year-by-year.

Tourism is an important economic driver in British Columbia and is featured prominently in the BC Jobs Plan. The provincial government remains focused on the long-term goals set out in the BC Jobs Plan to keep British Columbia diverse, strong and growing.


Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –

“The tourism sector continues to experience significant growth, driving job creation in our province. Generating $15.7 billion in revenue and supporting nearly 19,000 tourism-related businesses, the sector is delivering world-class tourism experiences that visitors are looking for. With over 5.5 million international visitors in 2016, B.C. is at the top of the must-see destinations worldwide.”

Marsha Walden, CEO, Destination British Columbia –

“The proof is clear – investing in tourism is investing in the province’s growth, and we are pleased to see government committed to this vital economic driver. We are at the critical moment where B.C.’s incredible variety of remarkable experiences are capturing the world’s imagination. With interest building every year, this new funding formula will help us continue serving the small businesses, operators, associations and regional destination marketing organizations that depend on us to help put their best foot forward in the increasingly competitive global tourism space.”

Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Association of British Columbia –

“British Columbia has enjoyed record tourism results largely because we have an industry passionate about delivering exceptional products and services to people from throughout the world. But it’s also important to recognize that strong partnerships and government investment in marketing is paramount to bringing visitors to our province to experience all that we have to offer.”

Quick Facts:

  • B.C. saw annual international visitor increases from a number of jurisdictions in 2016, including:
    • United States – up 10.9%
    • China – up 18.2%
    • Mexico – up 33.4%
    • Australia – up 21.1%
    • South Korea – up 14.5%
    • United Kingdom – up 17.3%
    • India – up 9.9%
  • A number of factors contributed to the growth in visitor numbers, including increased air access, a low Canadian dollar and Destination BC’s updated international marketing strategy.
  • Other Value of Tourism economic highlights for 2015 include:
    • $7.4-billion contribution to B.C.’s gross domestic product – a 5.6% increase over 2014;
    • $4.1 billion in export revenues – up 7.4%;
    • 18,938 tourism-related businesses – up 1.4%;
    • 127,700 employed in tourism-related businesses – up 1.2%; and
    • $4.5 billion paid in wages and salaries – up 4.0% over 2014.

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