While much of B.C. is reporting a busy first six months of the year welcoming international visitors, Destination Osoyoos says the same period was “business as usual.”
According to Statistics Canada, almost 2.4 million international visitors came to B.C. between January and June — a 12.4% increase (254,935 additional visitors) over the same period last year.
But Kelley Glazer, DO’s executive director, says Osoyoos likely didn’t share in that international growth.
“The international market here is not something that has been focused on in the past years and is somewhat challenging for our stakeholders as much of it comes through tour operators looking for wholesale rates,” she explained.
“Our stakeholders are running at full capacity through the season without offering wholesale rates.”
Many of the community’s resorts and other accommodations are booked through much of the year with visitors from the Lower Mainland and the prairie provinces. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for international visitors.
That said, Ms. Glazer added she wants to build a more robust international program.
“I would like to work on the international travel trade for our shoulder periods,” she said. “But it will take at least two years to get much traction on that.”
DO doesn’t yet have any hard numbers on visitation to the community — that will come in a couple of months with the release of Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) reporting — but the qualitative evidence suggests a good season for local operators.
“The verbal reports I am getting are all reporting up over last year and having achieved forecasted budget for the season already,” Ms. Glazer said. “Business is definitely up.”
Across British Columbia, visits from the United States were up 12.4%, visits from Mexico were up 38.6% and visits from China were up 22%.
In addition, 656,676 international visitors came to B.C. in June alone – an 8.6% increase compared to June 2015.
A number of factors are reportedly contributing to the growth in visitor numbers, including increased air access and capacity to Vancouver, a low Canadian dollar and Destination BC’s new international marketing strategy.