Tourism up almost eight per cent province-wide

VICTORIA, B.C. — It’s still unclear, whether the main attraction is the weather, the mountains, the forests, but the B.C. tourism industry is booming.

The tourism numbers show this province welcomed 4.9 million international tourists last year; a jump of almost eight per cent from the year before.

Provincial Jobs Minister Shirley Bond, who calls it’ another sign of a diversified economy,’ says visitors from France saw the biggest increase — with a 32.8 per cent jump and she says one of the reasons is the addition of a new direct flight.

The second-highest increase was in visitors from Japan, up 15.5 per cent. This is followed by the U.S., South Korea and Mexico, all at about 9.5 per cent, and part of a total increase of almost 360,000 over 2014.

The new flights are believed, at least in part, to be the result of the elimination of the jet fuel tax in 2012, which made air travel cheaper.

It’s believed tourism supports, more than 19,000 businesses in the province, with more than 127,000 employees, and the sector provides a job for roughly one out of every 15 people now employed in BC.

It’s also estimated that each new daily international flight to the province creates between 150 and 200 new jobs at Vancouver International, with an additional 300 to 400 more created indirectly in tourism businesses like hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and tour operators.

As for the economy, the numbers for last year aren’t yet available, but in 2014 the industry generated $14.6 billion in revenue, with a direct contribution to the province’s Gross Domestic Product of 7.1 billion — likely explaining why the Province annually invests more than $90 million in the sector.