March 25, 2016 4:04 pm
Updated: April 8, 2016 9:57 am

B.C. tourism ‘off to a great start’ in 2016

WATCH: It will be a busy Easter long weekend for hotel and tour operators in the Lower Mainland, thanks to several major events. As Grace Ke reports, add in factors like the low dollar, and 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for B.C.

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The new year is shaping up to be a banner one for tourism in British Columbia, thanks largely to a low Canadian dollar.

Along with groups of tourists, there are several city-wide conventions and sporting events underway that are bringing thousands of people to the Lower Mainland and the province.

With the cruise ship season almost upon us, B.C. industry experts are saying April is already shaping up to be a busy month for the tourism industry.

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“We’re off to a great start,” said Ty Speer from Tourism Vancouver.

“We had a couple of major conferences here in early January. Two weeks ago, we had the rugby 7s come through and 2015 was a record year for us. And it looks like everything we’ve kicked off with in 2016, points towards another record year.”

READ MORE: Weak dollar spurs U.S. travelers to book up Alberta, BC back-country getaways

Then there are our neighbours to the south.

With our low gas prices and Canadian dollar, coming to B.C. for spring break has been even more attractive in 2016. Visitors appear to be staying a little longer, spending a little more money and adding on some extra attractions.

“A lot of our hotel properties are reporting a steady pace going into summer,” BC Hotel Association’s David MacKenzie said.

“I think it’s a real combination of all of them – we have low gas prices and British Columbians are our own best customers. So British Columbians are staying closer to home and travelling more frequently. As well, that plays into Alberta, our closer neighbour… and then combine that with the position of our dollar, it’s very attractive for United States travellers to come up. People from the state of Washington love British Columbia and we’re starting to see lots of Americans in very steady numbers.”

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