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MARK: B.C.’s tourism industry paddles out of the pandemic storm, ready to welcome visitors

‘The recovery of the tourism industry is bringing a new challenge for operators in B.C.’
Melanie Mark, MLA elect for Vancouver-Mt Pleasant, speaks with media after becoming the first First Nations woman to serve in the legislature as she looks up at family and friends during a swearing in ceremony at legislature on Wednesday, February 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Tourism is making a comeback after two tumultuous years with COVID. People are getting out, connecting with friends and family, camping, exploring, soaking up rest and relaxation, and attending events. Canadian and international visitors are making the choice to come to B.C. and the numbers look very promising!

But let’s not forget what we have been through. There is no question it’s been a very difficult and traumatic time for everyone, especially those working in the tourism industry. Over the last two years everyone working in this sector made numerous sacrifices.

They attended endless meetings discussing ways in which we could mitigate risk and gave advice on what needed to be done to ensure that the sector continued to thrive. They made an unwavering commitment to keep us safe.

Together, we worked with the Tourism Task Force to provide support the tourism industry identified as a priority. Because of this collaborative effort we’re celebrating 609% more flight bookings into B.C. and a 38% increase in hotel occupancy compared to last year.

The recovery of the tourism industry is bringing a new challenge for operators in B.C. - finding and retaining employees. While over 100,000 people moved to B.C. in 2021 (the highest net migration in more than 60 years) and our strong economic recovery has resulted in 92,500 more people employed in B.C. than before the pandemic, the labour market remains tight.

Together, we will continue to address workforce challenges. B.C.’s strength is its people, and the Province is tackling the labour shortage by investing in skills training, childcare and housing and capping rent costs to make life more affordable for more people.

We have come a long way! Last year the Province started rolling out our vaccinations and passports and activities such as live music, dancing and visiting with friends and family are things we look forward to this summer. Now more than ever we need to be together.

As we celebrate Tourism Week, we want to thank all the people whose jobs rely on tourism — for your commitment, determination, patience and perseverance. We encourage British Columbians to make up for lost time by exploring like never before.

Destination BC has been instrumental in promoting how to safely explore our own backyard, introducing British Columbians to new communities and places that were under the radar.

Check out a local game or music festival, visit attractions like the incredible Malahat SkyWalk, PNE or Richmond night market, or local museum or art gallery. Be a part of reconciliation in action by supporting the more than 400 Indigenous tourism businesses that were thriving before the pandemic.

We have paddled through the worst storm ever and will paddle even harder to achieve shared success. When we see people getting back to work in tourism, we see communities thriving. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The industry is known world-wide for providing access to renowned travel, recreational, cultural, and culinary experiences. They create world class experiences and memories.

Let’s keep the numbers climbing so B.C. can continue shining.

By: Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport

Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of BC

Brenda Baptiste, Board Chair, Indigenous Tourism BC

Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association

Richard Porges, President and CEO, Destination British Columbia