Schooner Cove in Tofino.
Sander Jain / PNG
Related Over six million international tourists flocked to British Columbia in 2018, the highest number on record.Statistics Canada figures released on Monday showed that of the 6.1 million tourists who came to B.C. last year from abroad, 3.9 million were from the U.S. (a jump of 7.1 per cent over 2017). This number does not include the 2.2 million Americans who came into B.C., mostly by car, on day trips.The figures showed the biggest jump in non-American tourists coming to B.C. were from South America (up 56.8 per cent), followed by Africans (up seven per cent) and Europeans (up 6.6 per cent). The number of Asian tourists increased 5.5 per cent in 2018 over 2017.Related Travel agent Claire Newell said she was not surprised by the record numbers, attributing it in part to the fact one U.S. dollar currently buys around $1.30 Canadian.“Our dollar is really attractive to the Americans who make up such a huge percentage (of tourists), and they feel very safe here,” Newell said. “A lot of people from the U.S. are afraid to do international travel, but Canada is a very safe place for them and B.C. has a lot to offer. Our ski destinations, the beaches of Tofino, the Interior for wine and it’s getting so much more well known.”Newell said the cruise ship industry was also playing a big role in driving up tourism numbers, due to larger ships bringing more people.“That’s really great for the economy, particularly Vancouver,” she said.Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, told Postmedia News she was “thrilled to see that 6.1 million travellers last year discovered all that beautiful, supernatural British Columbia has to offer.”Canada also broke tourism records in 2018, with 21.1 million international tourists arriving — 1.2 per cent more than the 2017 record that was in part attributed to Canada’s 150th celebrations.It was the fifth consecutive year of growth for international tourist arrivals in Canada and the first year since 2015 that growth in numbers of tourists from the United States (up 1.4 per cent) outpaced the increase from overseas countries (up 0.8 per cent).B.C.’s big uptake in South Americans tourists was mirrored nationally, where arrivals from Brazil were up 31.1 per cent in 2018 to 197,000 trips. That increase followed the partial lifting of visa requirements for residents of Brazil, which took effect in May 2017.Newell said the lifting of visa requirements had also played a key role in recent years bringing more Chinese and Mexican tourists to B.C.The stellar tourism numbers come as hundreds of tourism operators, destination marketing organizations and sector associations prepare to meet this Wednesday to Friday at the B.C. Tourism Industry Conference in Vancouver.The conference is being opened with a keynote presentation from Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom.A panel discussion with Evi Mustel of the Mustel Group, Val Litwin of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C. who will discuss what lies ahead for the province, and how strained relations with China, an upcoming federal election and other issues will impact B.C.’s visitor economy.According to the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., tourism brings $18 billion a year to the provincial firstname.lastname@example.org