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POPHAM: B.C.’s tourism industry poised for the travel season and return of visitors

As we celebrate Tourism Week in British Columbia, we recognize this industry, and the people who work in it, for its important contributions to our province.
Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham provides an update about fish farms in the province during a press conference in the press gallery at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday June 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

As we celebrate Tourism Week in British Columbia, we recognize this industry, and the people who work in it, for its important contributions to our province.

Tourism has, and will always be, integral to who we are as British Columbians. Our province offers stunning landscapes and mountain ranges, the Pacific coastline, vibrant arts, culture and sport sector, and authentic Indigenous experiences.

This year is the first travel season without pandemic-related border restrictions and we are so excited to spotlight British Columbia once again as the world-class destination it is. People are travelling again, and when they have a choice of where to go, they are choosing our province.

The cruise ship season is underway and B.C. is poised to welcome a record number of ships and passengers, with approximately 700 cruises and 2.23 million estimated visitors. This is fantastic news for the people and communities in B.C. who rely on a thriving cruise-ship industry. Air travel is also increasing, with more than 19 million domestic and international passengers passing through Vancouver International Airport in 2022 — two million more people than expected.

This also brings benefits to B.C.’s accommodations sector, the communities in which they are located and the entire tourism ecosystem regardless of location or size. In 2022, B.C.’s hotels recorded occupancy rates of 66.5 per cent which was the highest among all provinces and territories.

Still, we know not every business has fully recovered. We will continue to work together to rebuild so we are even better than before, including hiring and retaining skilled employees who are needed for businesses to operate at full capacity, and to deliver a world-class experience to our visitors. One of our highest priorities is the continued recovery and resilience of our vibrant industry, which contributed $22 billion to the province’s economy before the COVID-19 pandemic.

British Columbians and visitors have told us a sustainable tourism economy is crucial to our province —now and in the future. Tourism trends and traveller behaviours are changing and visitors are increasingly seeking sustainable travel opportunities that help preserve, rather than degrade, natural spaces. Indigenous Peoples are guiding us all on how to protect and steward the land. By working together, we will deliver eco-friendly tourism practices, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and ensure we are protecting our environment for generations to come.

Collaboration and partnerships, especially in the face of challenges over the past few years, are critical. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger together. We are confident we will achieve all we set out to do in this sector, thanks to the thousands of people who work across B.C.’s tourism industry and whose ongoing commitment to excellence elevates B.C.’s reputation as a world-class destination.

A flourishing tourism industry is vital to every part of our province and benefits all British Columbians. This year, we encourage all British Columbians to explore every corner of our province and experience the best B.C. has to offer, and to join us in celebrating BC Tourism Week.

Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport

Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of BC

Brenda Baptiste, Board Chair, Indigenous Tourism BC

Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association

Richard Porges, President and CEO, Destination British Columbia