For the past five years, the Burns Lake Visitor Centre has seen a steady increase in the number of visitors.
In 2015, visitors were up by 6.7 per cent compared to the previous year.
In the first six months of 2016, 1491 visitors stopped by the Burns Lake Visitor Centre, down from 1770 visitors during the same period last year. Although there was a decrease in the first six months of 2016, the chamber expects to see another increase by the end of the year.
“We expect that trend [of growth] to continue,” said Raeanne O’Meara, the chamber’s social media and marketing coordinator.
In addition, more visitors stopped by the visitor centre in May than the year before. O’Meara said this was probably due to the nice weather that the region experienced in May.
About 30 per cent of visitors that come to Burns Lake are international travellers. This includes travellers from European countries – mainly Germany, Netherlands and England -, as well as the United States and a few from Asia and Australia.
Although the number of international visitors hasn’t significantly changed in Burns Lake over the past few years, the chamber expects to see more American visitors this summer due to the low Canadian dollar.
The province has already seen a growth in the number of international travellers in 2016. In fact, April had the highest number of international visitors to B.C. on record for all months of April over the past 10 years.
“2016 is shaping up to be an amazing year for tourism in British
Columbia,” said Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination British Columbia. “Even before we hit peak summer season, we see strong hotel occupancy rates and room revenues, fueled by a huge rise in overnight visitors from Mexico, the U.S. and other key markets.”
The strong growth in visitors from China, South Korea and Mexico is partly due to increased air access/additional flights to Vancouver from those countries. According to the provincial government, each new daily international flight to Vancouver International Airport creates between 150 and 200 new jobs at the airport, plus more jobs in B.C.’s hotels, tourism attractions and businesses.
The new flights are thanks in part to a 2012 jet fuel tax eliminated by government to reduce costs for airlines and give travellers more choice.
The province says that another factor for the growth in tourism in B.C. is Aboriginal tourism, one of the fastest-growing tourism areas in the province.
Aboriginal tourism experienced a doubling of revenue from $20 million to $42 million between 2006 and 2012. In addition, there are more than 300 Aboriginal tourism businesses in B.C.