Strong ski season a boon for the province

Publisher’s Note

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Whether you were slinging lattes, grooming runs or employed in one of another hundred kinds of positions up here, you helped make it possible to welcome a record number of people to Sun Peaks — congrats! We’ve felt the momentum for a few years, so to see the numbers come in was a confirmation of something residents have been hoping for and working towards.

It’s our bread and butter and we know it. However, I think many B.C. residents would be surprised to learn just how important tourism is for the entire province. According to Destination British Columbia in 2015, almost five million people decided to spend their travel dollars here and the economic repercussions are significant.

In 2014, the tourism industry generated $14.6 billion in revenue, and related provincial tax revenue was $825 million. It will be interesting to see the 2015 numbers when they’re tallied as the dollar figures have been steadily increasing.

When people think of the heavy contributors to B.C.’s economy, resource-based industries quickly come to mind. But to put it in perspective, in 2014 tourism contributed more to the GDP than the forestry, fisheries and agriculture industries. It was slightly less than mining, oil and gas but as tourism is generally more renewal, it’s still the winner in my books.

And back to those baristas and groomers — 127,500 people earned their living from tourism related businesses taking home $4.3 billion in wages in 2014. While some might argue most of these are low skilled positions, I’d also argue they allow people to gain experience and lead flexible lifestyles. It’s not all dollars and cents all the time.
And while there are some major players on B.C.’s tourism scene (think: lift companies), there are more than 19,000 tourism related businesses with over half employing less than 10 people. That’s some small business love right there.

Tourism is a part of the province’s culture and history, just as much as forestry or the gold rush. Beginning in the late 1800’s the impressive mountain ranges and vast wilderness drew people from across oceans, just as they do now. The Canadian Pacific Railway built small lodges along its line in Field, Rogers Pass and Fraser Canyon and went on to open the Vancouver Hotel in 1887.

The strong ski season is not only beneficial to those directly involved but to all British Columbians. So again, congratulations are owed to the entire village. You’ve contributed to a long standing history of amazing visitor experiences in B.C. and also contributed significantly to our province’s economy. Get some R & R over the shoulder season because you definitely earned it this year!