International Tourists Flock to BC
Prince George, B.C. – Newly released statistics from the provincial government show British Columbia continues to be a popular destination for international tourists.
According to Statistics Canada, from January to May 2016, 1,650,703 visitors came to B.C. – a 14% increase over the same period last year.
And that number continues to trend upwards, as 478,066 came to B.C. in May – a 4.8% increase compared to May 2015.
Some of the biggest year over year increases were seen in the number of Mexican and American tourists.
(Visits from the U.S. were up almost 16% while visits from Mexico were up just over 38%).
The provincial government says those increased visits were fueled by increased air access and additional flights to Vancouver, the low Canadian dollar, “exceptional growth” in aboriginal tourism and Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy.
The latest statistics were no surprise to Tourism Prince George CEO Erica Hummel.
“Yeah, it’s a continuation of the story from last month,” she said, adding Prince George has also seen a sizeable increase. “We do have a steady increase in American travelers up here, by 12 percent. We also see Australians coming, 11 percent more than last year at the same time. My stats are limited to April at this stage but we are starting to see the trend increase as well.”
She admits poor weather has perhaps put a damper on things for some but expects that will be offset in other areas.
“Yes, I think that the poor weather will certainly have an impact on the visitors from domestic markets in July, however, we hope this will be offset by the low Canadian dollar that is driving international visitors.”
Hummel said a good-sized sporting event coming up this summer in Prince George also has her feeling optimistic.
“The native fastball tournament is going to see 70 teams come to town on the long-weekend in August so we’ll see about 1,500 athletes directly from just that one event.”
And she expects that momentum to continue. “There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. We’re seeing a lot of travellers coming through everyday and yeah, I think it’ll be a great summer, hopefully BC and Prince George will both see record breaking numbers.”