Roundup: Vancouver welcomes record number of visitors

January 8, 2015 1:48 am 

By Evan Daggan

VANCOUVER, Jan.7 (PNA/Xinhua) — The Vancouver tourism industry enjoyed a banner year in 2014 as the West Coast Canadian city welcomed more than 8.9 million overnight visitors last year – the best year ever recorded.

The city's tourism agency attributed the surge of visitors to a strong international economy, combined with an increasing number of large-scale international business conferences held in the year.

Stephen Pearce, vice president of Tourism Vancouver, said in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday that those numbers were the highest they' ve ever seen in recorded history.

The year 2007 was the previous watershed year, and now 2014 was going to be the next benchmark, said Pearce.

Pearce also said China, India and Mexico were the markets with the most growth last year in terms of visits to Vancouver. The number of visitors to Vancouver from china alone climbed by 29 percent in 2014 and china is now the second-largest foreign market for visitors to Vancouver, only next to the United States.

"We have this juxtaposition of the mountains, the ocean and the forests. We are an ethnically diverse community. It's a very special sense of place. People come here to recreate, to rejuvenate. They connect with themselves and connect with nature," Pearce said.

Audrey Paquet, a tourist from the east province of Quebec, said Vancouver turned out to be exactly as she imagined.

"That's amazing. I feel totally like it's Vancouver because I was thinking about the mountains and the buildings, the big buildings so shiny. Altogether this is Vancouver for me and I really love it," she added.

The Vancouver Convention Center was built on the waterfront in the heart of downtown and served as the Canada Pavilion for the World's Fair Expo in 1986. It expanded dramatically in 2010 and now hosts some major international conventions and exhibits.

Chris Gowe, Vancouver Convention Center director of sales, told Xinhua, "It's actually been a very strong year for us this year. We've hosted about 530 events, which have attracted about 650,000 delegates to the convention center."

City tourism officials are expecting that 2015 will be an even bigger year for the city's tourism market, forecasting that overnight visits to Vancouver, from all markets, will increase by 2.9 percent over 2014, setting yet another record.

Tourism is increasingly booming in Canada in recent years, with international arrivals expected to grow as much as 4.5 percent in 2014, according to the World Tourism Organization. Tourism is Canada's largest service export, contributing 16.4 billion Canadian dollars (13.94 billion U.S.dollars) in 2013. (PNA/Xinhua)

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