Real Numbers, Real Impact

Spreading the Wealth

Tourism generates many types of income for the region, including business income, wage earnings, share earnings, rates and levies. Direct spending by visitors positively impacts business profitability and employment growth. The money is then circulated and re-spent in the economy via indirect spending (the multiplier effect) which also serves to effectively redistribute wealth from urban to rural areas.

Tourism imports the market to the product. It is the only industry with a positive net flow of funds from wealthier to poorer regions and from urban to rural areas. The majority of money spent is imported from other geographical regions and is new to the host community.

Economic Diversification

BC’s economy is changing. Many communities have experienced a decline in the natural resource based industries upon which they were founded. Decreasing jobs and struggling local businesses have resulted in residents being forced to leave their communities in search of financial security. These communities are exploring alternative economic opportunities, often identifying tourism as an industry that can play a significant role in diversification.

Tourism helps make vulnerable local economies less reliant on single traditional base industries by building a more diverse economic base, supporting growth in other sectors such as transport, retailing, construction and agriculture, and by generating more development opportunities for small business to meet increasing demands for goods and services.  That’s especially good for rural communities!

Great Return on Investment

Tourism represents an investment, not a cost to taxpayers. Tourism acts as a “shop window” for the region’s lifestyle, enticing visitors to return as residents and investors. Even in difficult economic times, a strong tourism campaign can create major shifts in a community’s image, drive new business, create jobs and generate additional tax and revenue sources for governments facing economic challenges.

Economic Impact - By the Numbers

  • Tourism in its own right contributes over $1.7 billion to the Vancouver Island economy
  • In 2012, B.C.’s tourism industry generated $13.5 billion in revenue, a 40.5% increase over 2002
  • The accommodation sector generated $304M in room revenues for the Vancouver Island/Coast region
  • The accommodation sector generated $1.49 billion in room revenues for British Columbia
  • The tourism industry is the largest employer of workers aged 15 – 24 and is often the first employer for youth
  • In 2012 the provincial tourism industry employed 127,300 people and paid $4.3 billion in wages and salaries, on average $34,000 per worker
  • Almost 18,000 tourism-related businesses across the province employ 260,000-plus workers. That’s 10.8 % of BC’s total labour force or 1 out of every 15 workers!


  • Over 75% of all tourism and hospitality operators in BC are small businesses with less than 20 employees
  • British Columbia’s tourism industry will be a leader in provincial job growth as businesses look to fill 101,000 new job openings by 2020
  • In 2011, the provincial tourism industry generated $1.13 billion in taxes, including income, hotel, gas and other taxes, an increase of 61% since 2001
  • The provincial tourism industry is a $3.2 billion industry in export revenues
  • Globally, tourism it’s the worlds 4th fastest growing export sector
  • Globally, international tourist arrivals grew by 5 % in 2013 to 1.087 billion
  • Tourism represents 9% of the world’s GDP


  • Tourism represents 1 in 11 jobs in the world
  • Tourism generates US$ 1.4 trillion in export worldwide
  • Tourism represents 6% of the world’s exports
  • As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks fifth after fuels, chemicals, food and automotive products, while ranking first in many developing countries
  • Over the past 6 decades tourism has become one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world
  • There are 5 to 6 million domestic tourists worldwide
  • 4 out of 5 worldwide arrivals originate from the same region

Key Additional Economic Benefits


The tourism industry is diverse, offering more than 400 direct occupations, many leading to long-term, rewarding careers. Tourism’s lifestyle benefits a variety of workers, from students acquiring life-long skills to older workers returning to the workforce seeking flexible part-time or seasonal work. The industry’s fastest growing sectors over the next decade are expected to be recreation, entertainment and travel services.


Training is vital to growing the tourism industry. BC’s growing knowledge-based economy is raising the bar for skills needed by workers. For example, food services will require an estimated additional 2,470 professional chefs, 6,810 cooks, and 4,870 restaurant and food service managers by 2020.


Investment in tourism creates a payback to the economy and the government many times over. In fact, positive return is often realized in the year and continues for many years, generating tax revenues that fund important needs such as education and health across the region and to every community.

Tax dollars raised from tourism activities positively impact tourism destinations by directing capital towards activities such as cultural exhibitions, festivals and other tourist events, residents benefit. Tax funds are also used for a variety of new and enhanced initiatives including multimedia marketing strategies, media outreach, and research and product development including marketing to event, sport and conference organizers.