Nearly 90 per cent of the respondents to a recent B.C. Chamber of Commerce member survey say the province’s visitor economy will become even more important over the next decade.
Just under 1,200 businesses of all sizes and business sectors from each region of the province were asked to rank the importance of B.C.’s primary industries over the next five to 10 years.
Fifty-two per cent of respondents pegged tourism at the top, followed by clean technology, health services and international trade.
“Given how well the industry has performed, the survey outcome is not a surprise,” said Walt Judas, chief executive officer of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C.
“Tourism operators, destination marketing associations and multiple sectors have worked with all levels of government to build B.C.’s visitor economy and ensure adequate levels of investment in infrastructure, marketing, new products and services, as well as policies that encourage growth and sustainability.”
British Columbia’s $15 billion visitor economy employs about 127,500 people in nearly 19,000 businesses.
The province also saw a spike of 12.2 per cent more international overnight entries in November 2016 over the same time in 2015.
Other 2016 key performance indicators (KPIs) include:
* November’s year to date provincial hotel occupancy rates were up 2.2 per cent over 2015 and provincial average daily room rates were up 6.6 per cent
* Restaurant receipts reached $8.7 million, a 10.2 per cent increase over October 2015;
* Passenger volume at Vancouver International Airport was up 9.4 per cent by the end of November;
* By the end of November, B.C. Ferries had transported 19.7 million passengers, an increase of four per cent year to date
According to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s collective perspective survey, federal, provincial and municipal governments were all seen as supportive of business.
However, the survey identified room for improvement on taxes, regulations and labour issues.
Respondents were generally positive about B.C.’s economic climate and expected more growth in 2017.
“B.C. has worked hard to ensure it has a diverse economy and tourism has played a strong role on this front for years. Our data reveals the insight that more and more communities around the province may be looking at ways to proactively engage in the visitor economy as a means to become more resilient and prosperous,” said Val Litwin, president and chief executive officer of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.