The tourism ministry is trumpeting growth of 12 per cent this year in international visitors but they’re not coming to this neck of the woods.
In fact, the number of overseas visitors to one of the jewels in Metro Vancouver, Golden Ears Provincial Park, barely registers.
Stu Burgess, with SSG Holdings which operates the campground and day use area said that visitors from the U.S. to the park, account for only 1.3 per cent of the camping party nights, in both 2015 and so for this year as well.
And visitors from the rest of the world comprise only about one per cent of the camping party nights for the last two camping seasons.
In each of the time periods, from April 1 to Oct. 12, 2015 and from April 1 to July 31, people from the Lower Mainland comprise the vast majority of visitors – 91 per cent.
Folks from the rest of B.C. or Canada make up another three per cent each.
Burgess said he’s not sure why that it is. It could be because there are greater sights to see in the rest of the province for foreigners.
“I really don’t know. It’s not a thing for them here.”
Bruce Livingstone though, with Maple Ridge’s economic development office, said that more overseas tourists come here for day trips, such as horseback riding, rather than for overnight visits.
That’s what his office is focused on as it develops its tourism strategy for the city, following last year’s dissolution of Tourism Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, leaving each city to run its own tourism strategy.
The aim is to attract overseas visits to Maple Ridge once they’ve arrived in B.C. “We’re not going overseas and bringing them here.”
One of those day-trips could be following the Circle Farm Tour where motorists can visit variety agri-tourism operations.
The department is also trying to attract visitors here to sample the unique restaurants that have opened recently in Maple Ridge.
In the long term though, the goal is to increase the number of hotel rooms and get a convention centre in the area.
According to Statistics Canada, 2,307,624 visitors came to B.C. from January to June, a 12-per-cent increase (254,935 additional visitors) over the same period last year.
During the same time frame, other highlights include visits from the United States, which were also up 12 per cent, visits from Mexico up 38 per cent and visits from China up 22 per cent.
In addition, 656,676 international visitors came to B.C. in June alone – an 8.6 per cent increase compared to June 2015. There were increases in visitors from a number of markets in June over the same month in 2015, including:
- China, up 48.8%
- Mexico, up 40.2%
- Japan, up 22.6%
- South Korea, up 21.8%
- India, up 20.9%
- Australia, up 19.7%
- Europe, up 3.9%
- United States, up 4.4%
A number of factors are contributing to the growth in visitor numbers, including increased air access and capacity to Vancouver, a low Canadian dollar and Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy.