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Tourism Victoria CEO says weak loonie only small part of tourism growth

03/10/2015 04:44 EDT | Updated 05/10/2015 05:59 EDT
A jump in American tourists heading across the border has less to do with a weak Canadian dollar and more to do with a strong U.S. economy, according to the head of Tourism Victoria. 

Statistics Canada recently announced a falling Canadian dollar is luring U.S. visitors across the border, noting that 20 per cent more Americans visited B.C. in February compared to the same time last year.

But Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey says research shows that a weak Canadian dollar only accounts for about 20 per cent of the growth in tourism.

"Americans don't watch foreign currency that much," says Nursey. "Not like us or folks in the United Kingdom who are very self-conscious about their currency."

Instead, he says there are two key factors driving increases in tourism.

1. Strong economy in key markets

Two of B.C.'s key tourists markets, the Western U.S. and China, are currently experiencing strong economic growth. That growth drives consumer confidence and spending.

2. People are travelling more than they ever have before

Research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization shows consistent growth in tourism of about five per cent around the world, says Nurseay, and eight per cent in North America.

Nursey says although there's been a lot of online discussion about B.C.'s warm weather, that doesn't immediately translate to more visitors.

"I would say it certainly creates an aspiration to come to Victoria," says Nursey. "Whether someone can just say 'I've had it' and phone and travel the following week, I'm not sure."

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: What's driving the increase in tourism in B.C.?

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