Tourism Vancouver is projecting 2014 to be a banner year for overnight visitation in Metro Vancouver, the highest in the city’s history.
According to the bureau, the year-end overnight visitation is expected to reach 8.94-million – nearly 400,000 higher than the record achieved last year and more than half a million more than the year Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It says that 2014’s number exceeded original forecasts.
The surge in visitors can be attributed to several major factors, including a 25.8 per cent one-year increase in visitors from China. Tourism from China grew dramatically in recent years to the extent that China took over the United Kingdom as Vancouver’s largest overseas market.
In addition to Chinese growth, there were also significant growths in the markets from India (21.1%) and Mexico (21.4%).
Major conventions held in Vancouver were another factor. Tourism Vancouver says 26 large citywide conventions were held in the city and resulted in $140-million in direct visitor spending. This includes the return of SIGGRAPH, the city’s largest convention to date with 14,045 attendees, and the globally renowned TED Conference.
Without the 2009 expansion of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the city would not be able to host these significant and highly influential conferences and conventions.
Cruise ship passenger traffic also had a role as it has rebounded from the low point a decade ago when Seattle constructed new berths to provide Vancouver’s industry with competition. More than 812,000 cruise ship passengers traveled through Port Metro Vancouver during the cruise season from May to October.
Over at Vancouver International Airport, the nation’s second largest and busiest airport is expected to break a new all-time record for the number of passengers that pass through its gates.
YVR reached a record of 17,971,883 in 2013 and is projected to break that record with 19.2-million passengers by the end of 2014.
Forecast for 2015
Tourism Vancouver is forecasting a 2.9 per cent one-year increase in tourism in 2015, pushing the overnight visitation figure to over 9-million for the first time.
Strong growth is expected to continue from key growth markets in China (18%), Mexico (12%) and India (8%). Overnight visitation growth from the United States will grow by four per cent.
Vancouver will host more major conventions in 2015 such as the largest international medical conventions in the city’s history: the World Congress of Dermatology with 15,000 attendees and the International AIDS Society conference (7,000 attendees).
Next summer, Canada will play host to one of the year’s largest international sporting events – the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Vancouver is slated to be the centrepiece of the event as BC Place Stadium will be the site of eight matches and the championship final.
The global TED Conference is also expected to make another splash in the city for at least one more year. The contract to host the high profile annual conference in the city could be extended for additional years beyond 2015.
Strong passenger traffic growth will continue at Vancouver International Airport with the introduction of direct Qantas flights between Vancouver and Sydney, Australia in January 2015 and direct Air France flights between Vancouver and Paris in March 2015. Over the summer, Air Canada will add a non-stop route between YVR and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.
Some changes are also coming to Port Metro Vancouver’s cruise ship operations beginning in the 2015 Alaska cruise season. The Port will consolidate its cruise business at Canada Place and retire Ballantyne Pier as a cruise terminal.
Ballantyne currently welcomes less than 4 per cent of cruise ship visits and lacks modern capabilities, including shore power.
History of overnight visitor numbers to Vancouver
- 1994: 6,511,606
- 1995: 7,053,472
- 1996: 7,7619,389
- 1997: 7,760,994
- 1998: 7,865,483
- 1999: 8,286,220
- 2000: 8,448,542
- 2001: 8,347,153
- 2002: 8,321,683
- 2003: 7,967,198
- 2004: 8,523,304
- 2005: 8,604,870
- 2006: 8,692,925
- 2007: 8,912,525
- 2008: 8,629,103
- 2009: 8,110,823
- 2010: 8,415,366
- 2011: 8,290,685
- 2012: 8,342,941
- 2013: 8,569,470
- 2014 projection: 8,940,000
Feature Image: Grouse Mountain via Shutterstock