The B.C. summer tourism numbers are in, and they show a strong sector continuing to grow.
According to Statistics Canada, international visitor numbers in B.C. were up by 7.6 per cent to date in 2015 compared to the same time in 2014 as of the end of September – an additional 290,532 visitors to B.C. from outside the country.
September itself showed an 11.5 per cent increase over the same month last year.
The largest increase province-wide came from Japan, where 25 per cent more visitors arrived in B.C. during September over the same period last year.
B.C.’s largest international market, the U.S., saw a 14.5 per cent increase during September this year, with an additional 40,175 visitors crossing our southern border.
The report cites a recent rebranding campaign as a contributing factor for the growth, adding that more direct flights to B.C. and lower fuel prices also likely contributed to the increase.
The report also says British Columbian “staycations” continued to contribute to the strength of the sector.
That mirrors the findings of the recently released Visitor Experience Survey compiled by The Sociable Scientists and researchers from Vancouver Island University for Tourism Campbell River and District, which says 46 per cent of visitors to our area over the 12-week period responses were collected were from right here on Vancouver Island.
“It’s great to see that people want to get out and explore their own backyard,” says Laurel Sliskovic, owner and strategic lead of The Sociable Scientists, “especially in balancing out our shoulder seasons. A lot of Vancouver Island residents come here in October or November – or in March, April, May.”
The numbers haven’t yet come in for Campbell River’s summer season, but mayor Andy Adams says he is confident that we’re moving in the right direction.
“Right across B.C. tourism was through the roof last year, and, in particular, here on Vancouver Island,” Adams says.
In terms of what efforts are being made here in Campbell River to drive the tourism numbers, Adams says the city is, “continuing to put in applications for different conventions, conferences, annual general meetings and sporting events that will help out the hoteliers in the shoulder seasons in particular and Campbell River in general,” such as the recent bid to host the Tourism Industry Association of BC’s annual event after the success of the Tourism Association of Vancouver Island’s annual conference held here earlier this year.
“There’s lots more coming, and it will be rolled out in the next couple of months, so stay tuned.”
Andrea Knowles, who is in charge of media and promotions for Tourism Campbell River and Region, says they are particularly excited about their new partnership with Ahoy BC (ahoybc.com), an initiative of the British Columbia Ocean Boating Tourism Association designed to market the B.C. coast and marine tourism to the world.
Knowles says the partnership is a great opportunity to showcase our region to a sector that makes a huge impact on the local tourism economy.
Knowles says the Ahoy BC partnership is an ideal one, as there are already over 7,100 vessel stays in Campbell River each year between the three marinas, translating to over $6.2 million in boater spending. When the Discovery Islands are included, that number balloons to 31,351 stays and an economic impact of $27.3 million per year.
Campbell River will, in fact, be the inaugural community showcased through Ahoy BC, and will be highlighted by the organization at all their events for the year, including the Vancouver Boat Show.
Knowles also says they are currently putting the finishing touches on the 2016 Visitor’s Guide, and they are “very, very excited,” about the new redesign of the publication, which she thinks will paint our area in a vivid and interesting light for potential visitors, and maybe even remind those of us who are lucky enough to live here year ‘round of a few things, as well.