The Canadian and British Columbian Ministers of State for Small Business and Tourism held a joint press conference in Vancouver yesterday to announce that 2014 was a strong year for tourism, with year-over-year visitor increases both nationally and provincially.
“We are here today to tell Canadians what a great year 2014 was for the tourism industry,” said Maxime Bernier, Canada’s Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, adding that tourism is an important driver of prosperity and growth nationwide. “The industry is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs from Halifax to B.C.,” he said.
Bernier announced that overall tourism revenues in Canada reached $88.5 billion, with the industry providing nearly 628,000 jobs across the country.
“If I were an entrepreneur, I would invest in the tourism industry,” Bernier said.
Overnight arrivals to Canada by non-residents rose to 17.1 million in 2014, a three per cent increase over 2013. Arrivals from overseas markets increased more than 10 per cent year over year, with the top increases coming from China (29 per cent more tourists in 2014), India (19 per cent) and Japan (15 per cent).
Naomi Yamamoto, B.C. Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business, said that 2014 was an excellent year for tourism in British Columbia, too, with more than 4.7 million people visiting the province in 2014 – nearly a quarter of a million more than in 2013. That marks the third straight year of increased visits, with substantial increases in the number of visitors from China (26.2 per cent more tourists in 2014) and India (20.7 per cent). While the number of visitors from the United States increased by only three per cent, that represents an additional 100,000 visitors to the province.
“The U.S. dollar is helping us,” Yamamoto said. “I tell people from the USA that if they spend four days here, they get the fifth day free.”
Yamamoto highlighted how important tourism is to the B.C. economy, noting that more than 132,000 people in the province – one in 15 British Columbians – are employed in the tourism sector. B.C.’s tourism industry had revenues of $13.9 billion in 2014.
David Goldstein, president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), wrapped up the press conference by noting that the Commission is “even more bullish” for 2015 based on the early tourism numbers for this year. To the delight of the industry members in the room, he also announced that the CTC has renewed the lease on its Vancouver-based office for 10 years, so the Commission’s headquarters will remain in Vancouver.
PHOTO: Blake Richards, Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Tourism Caucus; Naomi Yamamoto, B.C. Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business; Maxime Bernier, Canada’s Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism; David Goldstein, president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission; Ian Robertson, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of B.C.