BC’s Tourism Industry: Positioned for Growth

August 6, 2014
Jock Finlayson

In BC, tourism supports and sustains jobs in every region and serves as the economic backbone of many smaller communities. Compared to other provinces, the tourism industry is proportionally larger in BC, a reflection of the province’s natural beauty and the diversity of both winter and summer activities offered here. Greater Vancouver’s international status as a desirable travel destination contributes to the prominence of the broader BC tourism sector.


  • The tourism industry is a significant economic engine for the province, accounting for $7.1 billion in GDP in 2012. Tourism represents a bigger slice of overall economic activity in BC than in most other provinces.
  • According to a recent Statistics Canada study, tourism supports up to 12% of all jobs in British Columbia.
  • Tourism is also one of the principal sources of export earnings for BC, making it an important driver of prosperity.
  • Between 2002 and 2009, the tourism industry experienced a steady decrease in international visitor volumes and expenditures, with especially sharp declines in visitors from the US and Japan. Since 2009, tourism activity has strengthened, punctuated by growth in excess of 4% last year. A similar pace of expansion is projected for 2014.
  • The US remains BC’s leading international tourism market. But the number of Chinese visitors has increased rapidly, and China has become our second largest international tourism market.
  • With ongoing economic and income growth in China, an improving US economy, and a weaker Canadian dollar, we expect tourism in BC will enjoy something of a revival over the next few years.

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