Tourism B.C. has reported a slight increase in international visitors to the province for the first 10 months of 2000 over 1999, citing intense competition as a factor in the lower than expected results.
The corporation says total visits to the province by non-residents in the first 10 months rose 1.5 per cent, compared to the same period in 1999.
In a year of mixed results for travel to B.C., the United Kingdom posted a 10.5 per cent increase through October 2000 and visits from the smaller markets of Taiwan and South Korea grew by 8.9 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.
However, the increase in visits from the UK, which accounts for approximately half of all European entries, was offset by a 7.6 per cent decline in visitors from Germany. B.Cs third largest European market, the Netherlands, grew by 6.1 per cent.
It was visitor levels from the key United States market that proved the biggest disappointment. Entry by US citizens grew by just 0.1 per cent, to 3,134,361 with most growth occurring earlier in 2000. Since the U.S. accounts for nearly three-quarters of the provinces international visitors, this small increase slowed overall growth figures.
Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture, Gerard Janssen, says select Asian markets helped soften the blow.
"Our continued efforts to diversify out market base in these intensely competitive times are paying off, which helps address a soft U.S. market," Janssen said in a release.
Tourism B.C. says significant increases from Taiwan, South Korea and China also helped offset a 2.2 per cent decline in visitor numbers from Japan.