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Tourism in BC: A Record Breaking 2019

It’s the biggest year yet for travel and tourism in BC.

The CBC is reporting that Destination BC is forecasting 23 million visitors to the province this year, a record-setting number for the province. According to Destination BC’s report, 20.8 million people toured about British Columbia in 2018. This is great news for travel and tourism businesses in Vancouver.

Check out the break down of the numbers below:

Tourism Indicators: Accommodations


In 2018, Vancouver led the pack in terms of hotel room revenues. From January to September, hotel room revenues across the province. 

  • Vancouver: $772,541,000
  • Whistler: $271,406,000
  • Victoria: $168,986,000
  • Tofino: $47,527,000
  • Kamloops: $52,396,000

With a high density of hotels an average per-night cost of $260, it’s no surprise that Vancouver ranks at the top, but it’s interesting to note that smaller destinations such as Tofino also appear in the top 5. 

Occupancy Rate

The busiest season for most B.C destinations were unsurprisingly the summer months. The provincial accommodation occupancy rates from June to September were:

  • June: 79.9%
  • July: 84.2%
  • August: 86.7%
  • September: 81.1%

The most occupied B.C destination in 2018 was Campbell River in August with a 97.3% occupancy rate, followed by Downtown Vancouver in August with a 94.3% occupancy rate. 

Expectedly, occupancy rates fluctuate based on locations. While most areas experienced occupancy rates in the low 40’s to low 60’s early in the year, this was Whistler’s busiest time with an 85.5% occupancy rate in January and 88.1% rate in February.

International Visits to BC

The two largest sources of travellers are from international and U.S tourists. In 2018, international visitors totalled to a whopping 6,071,065.

Tourists from Asia Pacific accounted for over 20% of international visits, with 1,326,458 visitors recorded. 

International visitors, also referred as “custom entries” by Statistics Canada, reports the “volume of non-Canadian residents entering Canada through a designated land, sea or air border by province of entry and country of origin.”

Visitors from the US

In 2018, there were 6,092,377 U.S visitors to B.C. Of that number, there were 3,879,608 overnight visitors from the U.S. 

It’s likely that many of these overnight visitors are folks from Washington or even Oregon, looking to take advantage of the strong American dollar and do a little shopping in the Lower Mainland. 

Looking at 2019

The first few months of 2019 have already seen some impressive numbers. In June 2018, Destination BC released their report on tourism activity from January to March. Here are some of the highlights:

  • International visits in January saw a 9.7% increase from 2018, bumping up to 301,373
  • A 9.5% increase in hotel occupancy rates in Nanaimo in the first free months, hitting 65.5%
  • Every category (International, U.S, U.S Overnight, Asia Pacific) of visitors experienced an increase, excluding Europe
  • Almost every community increased in average daily room rate, excluding Prince George and Kamloops 

British Columbia has a lot to offer the world. From five-star restaurants and hotels to unique attractions to beautiful, sprawling mountains, there really is something for every type of traveller in our humble abode. It’s safe to say the travel and tourism industry will bolster B.C’s economy for years to come.

Kayla is a writer, mountain ascender, guacamole, Murakami and ultimate frisbee enthusiast. Also, a journalism student at Ryerson University.