Despite tourism marketers’ best efforts, B.C. continues to attract fewer tourists than it did pre-pandemic.
An end to government travel restrictions, restored flight routes and marketing campaigns are helping the province increase its number of international visitors.
Some setbacks, however, may take a while to resolve.
In November – the most recent month for which data is available – B.C. attracted 214,936 foreign visitors who stayed at least one night, down 21.6 per cent from the 273,999 visitors who stayed at least one night in the same month in 2019.
November is also a key month for comparison purposes because it was one month after Canada lifted COVID-19 testing requirements and ended its mandate that travellers use the ArriveCan app in order to enter the country. An end to those measures took some of the hassle out of flying into B.C.
The drop in visits from some countries’ nationals, however, remains substantial.
In November 2019, for example, 12,370 mainland Chinese visitors entered Canada through B.C. entry points and spent more per capita – $2,021 – than did visitors from any other nation, according to B.C.’s tourism marketer, Destination British Columbia.
Contrast that with November 2022, when only 4,729 mainland Chinese visitors entered Canada through B.C. entry points. That is a 61.8-per-cent drop in the number of mainland Chinese visitors coming to B.C. in that month, compared with November 2019.
It may be a surprise that so many mainland Chinese nationals were even able to enter B.C. in that month, given that China still had some pandemic-related travel restrictions.
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