Industry Overview: Tourism

Published: Sep 11, 2017
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2017

The tourism industry in Canada is growing, and British Columbia is no exception. 2016 saw an increase of 12.3% in international visitors and tourism is now one of BC’s leading business sectors (DestinationBC, 2017). Local tourist treasures have also been winning accolades including:


British Columbia benefits from many competitive advantages in tourism, such as “proximity to Asia, spectacular natural assets, safe and welcoming environment, and world-class visitor experiences provided by nearly 19,000 tourism businesses.” (DestinationBC, 2017).

And it shows. In 2016, over 5.5 international visitors toured the province. To put that in perspective the local BC population in 2016 was only 4.6 million! This translates to $15.7 billions in revenue to the provincial economy and nearly 19,000 business supporting the tourism industry. (DestinationBC, 2017) With this kind of impact, tourism “has become one of BC’s leading business sectors.” (go2HR, 2017).


Nation-wide, Canada is also welcoming millions of travelers, both domestic and international. Canada has a very positive international perception which helps explain how in 2016, world travel to Canada grew by 11%, nearly three times the world average of 3.9% (Destination Canada, 2016). The trend seems likely to continue in 2017 as tourism spending has increased by 6.7% between January and March 2017 (Destination Canada, 2017). Passenger air transport, accommodations and food and beverage services saw the largest gains. More visitors also means more jobs. The first quarter of 2017 saw nearly 711,000 jobs added for tourism activities, an increase of 1.7% compared to the same period in 2016.

Industry Trends and Challenges

As direct flights to BC and Canada increase, we see more visitors from different parts of the world. More travelers from China, Australia, Mexico, and the UK are visiting Canada as flight connections between these countries improve. For example, air capacity from Germany to British Columbia increased by 37.8% in June 2017; subsequently German visitors to BC went up by 31%. (BC Gov News, 2017)

A challenge facing the tourism industry in BC is the ongoing labour shortage in service work such as hospitality and food and beverage services. In its 2016 Annual Report, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada writes, “Many of Canada’s most popular destinations are remote, resort communities that showcase Canada’s natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes. While these places are iconically Canadian, they are not places many will relocate to for work, thus adding to labour shortage issues in high traffic tourist areas. The current labour shortage, particularly in Western Canada, is forcing many tourism businesses, including attractions, hotels and restaurants to reduce hours of operation and services offered.” (TIAC/AITC, 2016, p.44)



Magazines and Trade Journals


Additional resources

If you would like to access more resources, the Tourism Industry Guide is designed to help prospective and existing business owners gather information for their secondary market research. The guide is broken down into four main sections that cover how to start your research, industry information, competitive information and customer information. Depending on your needs you can spend as much or as little time as necessary in each section.

If you find that you need more guidance before starting your secondary research, check out our Business Research Basics Guide. It will help you focus on what types of information you will need to gather and why it is important.

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BC Gov News. 2017. "June showing positive trend for B.C.’s tourism sector." Retrieved from

Destination BC. 2017. "Gaining the Edge: A Progress Update." Retrieved from

Destination Canada. 2017. "National Tourism Indicators: January to March (Q1) 2017 Highlights." Retrieved from

go2HR. 2017. "Tourism Week in Canada May 28 - June 3." Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. 2017. "Travel Survey of Residents of Canada, 2016 (final)" Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of Canada. 2016. "Annual Report on Canadian Tourism." Retrieved from


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