Although many of us have been “tourists” at some point in our lives, defining what tourism actually is can be difficult. Tourism is the activities of people traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for leisure, business or other purposes for not more than one consecutive year.
Tourism is a dynamic and competitive industry that requires the ability to adapt constantly to customers’ changing needs and desires, as the customer’s satisfaction, safety and enjoyment are particularly the focus of tourism businesses.
Outbound tourism is what you may be most familiar with. It involves the people going from British Columbia to other provinces, territories or countries. For example, going to Hawaii for a holiday is considered outbound tourism.
The tourists coming to BC from other places are called inbound tourists. BC competes in a global market to attract tourists from the United States, Japan, Germany and many other countries. The industry also implements marketing campaigns aimed at attracting travellers from other parts of Canada, as well as from within British Columbia.
Approximately half of the tourists in BC each year are actually from within the province. BC Stats and Destination BC consider those travelling beyond their usual environment (typically more than 80 km from home) for business or for pleasure to be tourists.
There are different ways to measure the size of the tourism industry, as tourism does not conform to the usual ways that industries are defined, such as manufacturing, forestry and other industries. Tourism constitutes a wide variety of sectors that provide diverse products and services to visitors. However, these businesses also provide products and services to local residents.
The tourism and hospitality industry in British Columbia employs 291,000 people on a full year equivalent basis, in diverse sectors such as transportation, travel services, recreation and entertainment, accommodation and food and beverage services. The industry represents approximately 12% of the total BC workforce. Of these 291,000 workers, approximately half (133,000) are employed directly as the result of the $17.0 billion in tourism revenue in the province each year.
When describing the “tourism industry,” go2HR includes all 291,000 workers, because this is the number of people who need to be recruited and trained to support the businesses that serve both tourists and local residents. Economic reports may focus more on the 133,000 jobs created by direct tourism spending for different purposes. Both figures are correct.