Visitor numbers to Vancouver are set to reach record levels this year, according to the latest estimates by Tourism Vancouver. Approximately 9.4 million visitors will be clocked by the time Vancouver rings in the New Year with its new fireworks celebration event in downtown.
This is an increase of about 500,000 visitors over last year’s figures, making it the second consecutive record breaking year, with major growth in the markets from the United States, Japan, France, South Korea, Mexico, and China.
Visitor numbers from the United States, the largest international market, will grow by 8.3 per cent over last year’s number of 1.9 million overnight. About a quarter million visitors are expected from China, the largest overseas visitor market, after a growth rate of five per cent over 2014.
“There are a lot of contributing factors,” Tourism Vancouver spokesperson Amber Sessions told Vancity Buzz. “Certainly the global economy has been good, there is high consumer confidence in the United States, and the low Canadian dollar also helps. But it’s also a story of our destination sales and marketing paying off.”
Downtown hotels were near capacity for much of the summer: occupancy reached 90 per cent throughout July and August, except for five days. When the FIFA Women’s World Cup championship final was played on July 5, hotel occupancy soared to 99 per cent.
The month-long FIFA tournament was a major factor for the spike – a total of nine matches were played at B.C. Place Stadium, including major rivalries in the knockout stage. As well, 19 ‘citywide conventions’ were held in Vancouver such as the World Congress of Dermatology with 10,000 attendees, International Diabetes Federation with 8,000 attendees, and the Academy of Management with 11,000 attendees.
The official global TED Conference also returned to the city for its second year at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The high-calibre, annual week-long event was held in California prior to the move in 2014, and organizers confirmed earlier this year that Vancouver will remain as their home at least until 2017.
In March, Vancouver will begin its new role as the annual host of one of stops for the World Rugby Sevens Series. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world to the host cities each year.
Additionally, Vancouver’s cruise industry experienced another strong year, with more than 805,000 passengers on 32 ships making 228 voyages. The sailing season also began early and ended much later than usual: the first sailing was on March 28 and the last sailing was yesterday, December 15.
Another factor revolves around the high passenger growth rate experienced at Vancouver International Airport. A number of new major flight services were added this year, and the same is expected for 2016.
A new record of 20 million passengers is expected in 2015, up from 19.36 million in 2014 and 17.97 million in 2013.