It’s not just your imagination. Vancouver is more popular than ever.
In 2014, nearly 9 million people from overseas visited the city and stayed overnight, an all-time record, according to figures released by Tourism Vancouver. The 2014 total tops even the 2010 tally, when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Anyone who took a stroll on the Stanley Park seawall this summer – which was thronged with sightseers speaking dozens of different languages – probably got a glimpse of this first hand.
So what’s behind the surge in the number of tourists?
Visits from China increased by an amazing 25 percent year over year, which 190,000 Chinese tourists coming to Vancouver in 2014. China now ranks second among all countries in terms of tourist visits to Vancouver, ahead of the U.K. (149,000), Australia (133,000) and Japan (85,000).
Of course, all of that’s small change compared to the 1.57 million travellers from the U.S. who visited Vancouver in 2014 and stayed overnight. Interestingly, the highest number of U.S. visitors come from California (399,000), followed closely by our neighbour to the south, Washington (387,000).
Another big reason for the bump in annual visitors to the city was TED and other major international conferences. The largest conference actually wasn’t TED but the lesser-known SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques), an event for people in the computer graphics industry that took place in August and drew 14,045 attendees. In total, 26 major conferences contributed $140 million in direct visitor spending.
A big year for cruises also helped fuel the record visitor numbers. During this year’s summer cruise season, 29 different cruise ships made 243 separate stops in Vancouver, bringing 812,095 passengers to our shores. All that cruise ship traffic contributed $486 million in economic activity.
So what’s in store for next year? According to the Tourism Vancouver report, China will continue sending record numbers of travellers to the city, with visits expected to rise another 18 percent. Tourist visits from Mexico and India are also expected to increase substantially. In other words, it looks like the seawall is going to be more bustling than ever.
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