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Rugby fans cheer during during a match at the Canada Sevens, the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at BC Place stadium on March 13 in Vancouver. Events such as the World Rugby Sevens, which is returning in 2017, helped boost tourism in Vancouver in 2016. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images for HSBC)
Rugby fans cheer during during a match at the Canada Sevens, the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at BC Place stadium on March 13 in Vancouver. Events such as the World Rugby Sevens, which is returning in 2017, helped boost tourism in Vancouver in 2016. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images for HSBC)

Vancouver sees record number of overnight visitors in 2016 Add to ...

Vancouver set a record in 2016 with more than 10 million overnight visitors coming into the city, the third year in a row the city has had a record-setting year, says Tourism Vancouver.

China remains the city’s largest market outside North America for overnight travellers with 280,000 visitors, and 2.3 million overnight visitors from the United States represented a 9.8-per-cent growth from 2015.

Stephen Pearce, vice-president of marketing at Tourism Vancouver, said attributing the growth to a lower Canadian dollar would “overstate it.”

“The growth from across the U.S. has been strong right across the board,” Mr. Pearce said.

He noted that, although the dollar difference is better understood along the border states, the growth from those areas was not as strong as it was from across the rest of the United States. “What that tells me is that those are people that are coming here not because of the dollar per se.”

Overnight tourism from Mexico showed, at 116,857 visitors, one of the highest levels of growth with a 33-per-cent increase in 2016 over 2015.

Mr. Pearce said that this was in large part because of more air capacity and the willingness of Mexican airlines to work with Tourism Vancouver. According to a release from Tourism Vancouver, another contributing factor was the announcement that Canada would lift visa requirements for Mexico in late 2016.

What Mr. Pearce describes as a “healthy” increase of about 4 per cent, was from Canadian visitors to Vancouver (5,909,022) choosing to travel within the country.

High profile events, such as the World Rugby Sevens, which is returning in 2017, helped boost tourism, as well as cruise ship arrivals, conventions and festivals.

Tourism Vancouver said in a release that each time a cruise ship docks in the city’s ports, it stimulates more than $2-million in economic activity. Metro Vancouver’s ports saw 826,820 passengers from 28 cruise ships that made 228 trips in 2016.

Mr. Pearce believes that 2017 is poised to see big numbers again and predicts an overall increase in volume of 4 to 5 per cent. He said Canada 150 events should contribute to this, as well as the NCAA events that Tourism Vancouver is looking to bring in, along with some other events that are being considered.

A challenge the city now faces is trying to spread the high volume of incoming tourists out over the year.

“We’re certainly going to have to find ways to move people into our shoulder seasons, the spring [and] the fall, and our off-season, the winter, which is our weakest season,” Mr. Pearce said.

“That’s part of the challenge for a successful destination, is to try and move business into times of the year where it’s not going to create perhaps the same pressures as you might see if we had more of that business coming just in the summertime.”

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