By Naomi Yamamoto
Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business
VANCOUVER - British Columbia has hosted more than 1,800 people from the world’s tourism industry this week as part of Rendez-vous Canada, this country’s premier international tourism marketplace led by the Canadian Tourism Commission.
The tourism event, held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, created an opportunity for International tour operators to network and forge new business relationships with Canadian sellers of premium tourism packages and products.
Destination BC capitalized on the attention of international buyers and travel media delegates by hosting nine tours, providing a closer view of B.C.’s world-class attractions. The sold-out tours showcased a variety of tourism experiences throughout the province including B.C.’s wine country, Whistler, Kamloops and Sun Peaks, the Kootenays and the Great Bear Rainforest, as well as attractions on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. In addition, Tourism Vancouver offered 10 activity tours around Vancouver prior to the marketplace events.
Rendez-vous Canada reports that last year the 2013 marketplace yielded considerable economic benefits worth an estimated $206 million in tourism business over three days of the event. These are impressive numbers that illustrate why the tourism industry is one of the key sectors in our BC Jobs Plan.
We’re working hard to stand out in an increasingly competitive international marketplace. To take advantage of interest generated through events like RVC, we need to make it easier for travellers to reach us and to cross our border. Liberalized air access not only leads to more flights and more travellers but also more trade opportunities, more jobs, more competitive routes and eventually, lower costs for the consumer.
We know Canadian air and visa policies can directly affect a traveller’s desire to visit us. Ultimately, easier international access to B.C. translates into job creation and revenue growth in tourism, trade, international education, and growing international sectors like liquefied natural gas.
Canada has made improvements to visa processing in the last few years and we remain optimistic that more innovation will lead to a stronger reputation for Canada among travellers requiring visas to travel here.
The Asia Pacific region is important for the economy of British Columbia and for tourism specifically. Last year, more than 200,000 travellers arrived in B.C. from China -- an increase of about 25% over 2012. However, there is still a great deal of work left to do, especially to provide the opportunity for more flights to and from other Southeast Asian nations.
That’s why we are continuing to talk to the federal government to ensure policies are in place that allow for new and expanded flights into B.C. from Asia and nations from around the globe.
This past Wednesday at Rendez-vous Canada, I hosted tourism ministers and representatives from Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, the Yukon and the federal government to discuss ways to increase tourism and market Canada to world. B.C. is committed to working with the federal and provincial governments, international airlines, airports and businesses from across Canada and around the globe to promote more liberalized air access between B.C. and other trading nations.
A co-ordinated effort will increase Canada’s competitive edge in attracting tourists and improve our economy, as well as benefit Canadian and foreign travellers.