Lifestyle

Strong visitor numbers for first half of year

The number of overnight international visitors to British Columbia surpassed the two-million mark for the first six months of 2016.

According to Statistics Canada, 2,307,624 visitors came to B.C. from January to June, a 12.4% increase (254,935 additional visitors) over the same period last year.

During the same time frame, other highlights include visits from the United States, which were up 12.4%, visits from Mexico up 38.6% and visits from China up 22%.

In addition, 656,676 international visitors came to B.C. in June alone - an 8.6% increase compared to June 2015. There were increases in visitors from a number of markets in June over the same month in 2015, including:

* China, up 48.8%

* Mexico, up 40.2%

* Japan, up 22.6%

* South Korea, up 21.8%

* India, up 20.9%

* Australia, up 19.7%

* Europe, up 3.9%

* United States, up 4.4%

A number of factors are contributing to the growth in visitor numbers, including increased air access and capacity to Vancouver, a low Canadian dollar and Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy.

The Canada Transportation Agency just announced a sixth mainland China based air carrier, Capital Airlines, will start servicing Vancouver International Airport in December. Each new daily international flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) creates between 150 and 200 new jobs at the airport, plus more jobs in B.C.’s hotels, tourism attractions and businesses. The new flights are thanks in part to government’s  elimination of a 2012 international jet-fuel tax to reduce costs for  airlines and give travellers more choices.

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