British Columbia saw a huge increase in international tourists for the first half of 2016, up just over 12 per cent from the year before.
Statistics Canada tracked the number of overnight visitors to the province between January and June, counting over 2.3 million people.
It’s a 12.4 per cent increase from the same period in 2015.
The biggest increases came from the United States, China, and Mexico. Visitors from south of the border increased by 12.4 per cent, from China by 22 per cent, and from Mexico by 38.6 per cent.
“Tourism is off to a spectacular start this summer,” said Destination B.C. CEO Marsha Walden in a statement.
“With particulary high numbers from China and Mexico, and steady increases from the rest of our key markets, we expect international visitor arrivals to remain strong. Tourism businesses around the province are having a great season and are reporting strong bookings into the next. Our international visitors are discovering something we already know-it’s a great time to #exploreBC!”
June was one of the biggest months for tourism with 656,676 visitors in total, up over 8 per cent from June 2015.
The tourism agency thanks the low Canadian dollar, increased air service to Vancouver, and Destination B.C.’s new marketing strategy, for the rise in visitors.
A new Aeromexico route between Mexico City and Vancouver that began in December 2015, alongside Air Canada’s service to the region, likely helped boost travel from Mexico. Vancouver Airport also added new service to Osaka, Japan and Kunming, China, and increased service to Taipei, Taiwan and Soeul, South Korea.
A sixth mainland China-based airline, Capital Airlines, also just announced they would begin to service Vancouver in December.
All these new international routes were made possible in part due to the government’s elimination of an international jet-fuel tax in 2012, said a release from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
The ministry says tourism in B.C. has supported 127,500 employees and 19,000 businesses in the province.
Meanwhile, YVR is hoping to hit a record year with an expected 21-million passengers passing through the airport by year’s end.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is on track to break another passenger number record by the end of 2016 with 10.5 million visitors so far this year.
It’s an 8.1 per cent increase over the January to June period last year, largely thanks to a surge in traffic from Latin America, according to numbers released by YVR.
Visitors from Central and South America increased by 20 per cent, marking the strongest year-over-year growth for all international destinations into and out of YVR.
It’s in part due to a new Aeromexico route between Mexico City and Vancouver that began in December 2015, alongside Air Canada’s service to the region.
Traffic to and from Asia also saw a boost of 12.9 per cent with new service to Osaka, Japan and Kunming, China, and increased service to Taipei, Taiwan and Soeul, South Korea.
The airport also expects the new non-stop service to Brisbane, Australia and Delhi, India will lift numbers even further by the end of the year.
Like Asia, traffic from Europe also increased 12.9 per cent thanks to new flights to Rome and Dublin and increased service to London.
Despite the low Canadian dollar – an incentive from American travellers to head up north – U.S. traffic only increased 3.8 per cent year-over-year. YVR says it was the new non-stop service from Air Canada to San Jose, San Diego, and Chicago, and new WestJet service to Orlando and San Diego, that bumped up the passenger numbers.
They expect the new 787-7 Dreamliner service between Vancouver and Newark, New Jersey that started in June will grow the U.S. market further by year end.
While not making a huge impact on U.S. traffic, the Canadian Dollar might be keeping people at home. Domestic numbers moved up 7.6 per cent.
President and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, Craig Richmond says YVR is expecting to surpass a record 21 million passengers in 2016, slightly up from the record-smashing 20 million counted in 2015.
“We have an ambitious goal of 25 million passengers by 2020. We will achieve this by working together to support new and existing services, connecting British Columbia proudly to the world,” said Richmond in a release.
According to the airport, reaching 25 million passengers by 2020 would add 5,000 to 7,000 more jobs at YVR, generate $2.7 billion in GDP, and add more than $800 million in tax revenue to all three levels of government.