Tourism to B.C. surges in October

Overnight visitation to the province jumped 12.1% in the month, compared with last October

Metro Vancouver is the destination for most overnight visitors to B.C. | Joseph Hanus

Tourism to B.C. in October continued its surge compared with last year as the Canadian dollar stayed relatively flat with where it was in 2015 and new airline routes out of Vancouver International Airport drew passengers.

Overnight visitation in October was up 12.1% to 312,729 people, according to numbers that Destination British Columbia released December 21.

That was consistent with the trend so far in 2016, given that in the first 10 months of the year overnight visitation to B.C. increased 12.2%, compared with the same 10 months in 2015, to 4,892,877 people.

The fastest-growing source of overnight visitors in October was, curiously, Italy, which saw a 50.1% increase to 1,076 visitors.

The Import Vintners & Spirits Association held a wine tasting for Italian wines in Vancouver on October 24, so perhaps that event helped spur some travel. No new non-stop flights to Italy have launched.

Australia is a more significant source of tourists to B.C. with 11,201 overnight visitors in October. That’s up 45.3% compared with the same month in 2015.

One change that could account for that increase in Australian visitors is that Air Canada launched thrice-weekly flights to Brisbane on June 1 and then bumped that frequency up to daily on June 17. These are the first-ever non-stop flights between Canada and Brisbane.

Percentage increases in visitation Canadawide were similar to that in B.C.

In fact, the increase in visitation Canadawide was slightly higher in October (12.5% to 1,487,485) than the 12.2% growth rate for B.C.

In the first 10 months of the year, however, B.C.’s 12.5% increase in visitation was higher than the Canadawide growth rate of 11%, to 17,660,593.

The U.S. is the largest source of visitors by a sigificant margin.

There were 196,429 Americans who made overnight visits to B.C. in October. That is up 8.1% compared with October 2015 and it is 62.8% of all visitors.

In the first 10 months of 2016, there were 3,188,736 overnight U.S. visitors. That is up 10.8% compared with the same time period in 2015 and is 65.1% of all overnight visitors.