1999 a record year for B.C. tourism industry They came. They saw. They bought the T-shirt. They also took millions of pictures, booked tours, bought lift tickets, rented cars, ate in our restaurants, stayed in our hotels, shopped in our stores. And they came in droves. According to Small Business, Tourism and Culture Minister Ian Waddell and Tourism British Columbia chair Jean Anderson, 1999 was a record year for the British Columbia tourism industry. Tourism revenues reached a new high of $9.2 billion, up 4.9 per cent over the 1998 record, and exceeding even the most optimistic forecasts. More than 22.3 million people visited B.C. in 1999, which surpassed even the totals of 1986, the Expo year. "This is encouraging news for the tourism industry and the provincial economy as a whole," said Waddell. "These results are an indication of the successful marketing efforts of Tourism B.C. and its partners around the province." And we musn’t forget our low dollar relative to many other currencies. B.C. was especially popular with Americans, with revenues from U.S. visitor’s increasing by 6.8 per cent to $2.3 billion. Revenues from Asians increased 11.1 per cent to $911 million, and Europeans by 9.3 per cent to $683 million. Visitors from across Canada also chipped in about $2.7 billion in revenues, an increase of 3.2 per cent. In overnight stays, those figures translate to five million sleeping Americans, 843,000 Asians, and 671,000 Europeans. For 2000, Tourism B.C. President and CEO Rod Harris is predicting another increase, to $9.4 billion in revenues and 22.6 million visitors. "B.C.’s tourism industry has succeeded in attracting more international visitors," he said. A booming B.C. ski industry is a significant part of that growth. A B.C. Assets and Land survey of the 17 largest downhill ski areas in the province discovered that gross revenues for the 1998-99 season had increased by more than $75 million over the previous year. Direct sales of lift tickets and lodge services is approaching $300 million each year. Across the province, there were more than 5.582 million skier visits in 1998-99, an increase of more than 1.2 million visits over the previous year. Whistler/Blackcomb accounted for approximately 2.16 million of the visitor total and one third of the total revenues.