British Columbia set a record for international tourist visits in 2018.
Nearly 6.1 million international tourists visited the province last year — up 6.4 per cent from 2017. Visitors from the United States paced the growth, rising 7.1 per cent from the previous year. The number of international visitors from countries other than the U.S. also rose, albeit at the slower pace of 5.2 per cent.
These figures reflect broader trends in the tourism industry.
“In recent years, the numbers of international tourists visiting Canada has returned to levels last seen during the early 2000s, after which the number of visitors to Canada declined,” according to a Statistics Canada report. Factors that influenced this decline included the SARS outbreak in 2003, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar from 2002 to 2008, and the global recession that started in 2008.
During that period, the number of international tourists to Canada dropped from a high of 20.1 million in 2002 to 15.7 million in 2009. Since this low, the number of tourist arrivals from the U.S. rose 23.8 per cent, from 11.7 million in 2009 to 14.4 million in 2018.