Metro Vancouver experienced a third consecutive record-breaking year for overnight tourism visits with over 10 million people visiting the region in 2016.
This represents an increase of about two million visitors since 2014 and an increase of nearly a million from 2015 when 9.4 million visitors were recorded – just slightly under Montreal’s tally.
According to Tourism Vancouver, the growth comes from several areas, such as the low Canadian dollar, the city’s role as the venue for major conventions, and the strong cruise industry. There were 29 ‘citywide conventions’ that attracted approximately 160,000 attendees, and Port Metro Vancouver saw 826,820 passengers on 28 ships making 228 sailings from Canada Place in 2016.
Festivals and major events such as Vancouver’s inaugural World Rugby Sevens were another factor.
Additionally, Vancouver International Airport’s growing air traffic and global connections has been one of the most significant drivers for local tourism growth. YVR saw a consecutive growth year for passenger traffic, with a record of 22.4 million passengers in 2016 – over a million more than the previous year. The airport is on target to reach 25 million annual passengers before the end of the decade.
The largest international travel market by far remains the United States, which accounts for 2.3 million overnight visitors last year, while the fast growing market is Mexico. There was a 33.4% increase in Mexican tourists in 2016, and growth from this market is expected to soar in 2017 after the Canadian federal government’s decision to lift visa requirements beginning in late-2016.
China is Vancouver’s largest overseas visitor market with over 280,000 visitors last year. Other major markets are Australia with a 21.1% growth, the United Kingdom with 17.3%, and South Korea with 14.6%.
The mid- to late-summer months of July, August, and September were the biggest months for Vancouver’s hotels. Throughout July, there was a 94.1% rate for hotel room occupancy across the region, and it was likely capped by Honda Celebration of Light which saw about 600,000 attendees for its final night by the Walt Disney Corporation.
Tourism Vancouver says Vancouver had higher total occupancy and a higher average daily occupancy rate than Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. The local tourism industry adds $4.4 billion to the economy in Metro Vancouver and provides more than 70,000 full time jobs.