Government says ads boosting tourism 

Best Place on Earth campaign encourages British Columbians to vacation in province

Bookings from within British Columbia made through Tourism BC during the Province's Best Place on Earth domestic tourism ad campaign increased 96 per cent over the same period last year, Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Olga Ilich said Friday.

"Bookings are the most tangible evidence of success for the tourism industry in B.C., as they represent money in hand for businesses," Ilich said in a release. "Growth in other indicators confirms the success of the campaign."

The Best Place on Earth campaign was launched in June. The ads invited British Columbians to contact the Tourism BC call centre or consumer website, www.HelloBC.com. In the weeks prior to the ad campaign, bookings were actually down marginally from the year before, but they began to grow the first week the ads ran. In the fourth week, at the peak of the campaign, bookings increased fourfold over the same period in 2005.

Inquiries to Tourism BC are also up dramatically – more than 200 per cent following the launch of the ad campaign.

"Our focus on international visitors can lead us to undervalue domestic tourism," Ilich said, "but travel by British Columbians within their own province has a huge potential for growth. The variety of adventures and attractions within B.C. is immense and growing, and we need to let British Columbians know about them."

Whistler saw a 13 per cent increase in room nights during May and June and trends suggest this could be the resort’s best summer ever.

"The forecast for room booking is up 8 per cent over last year and if projected growth occurs room nights sold will outpace 2000 (Whistler’s best summer) by 4 per cent," Tourism Whistler’s Breton Murphy said last week.

Murphy also noted the Whistler Mountaineer train has been a major contributor to Whistler’s 43 per cent increase in tour and travel numbers (visitors who come to Whistler as part of a tour group). As of July 21, Whistler Mountaineer had 38,300 bookings, surpassing its 2006 target of 36,000 passengers.

Other indicators suggest that the tourism industry is holding its own across the province, with provincial room revenue up more than seven per cent in April, passengers through Vancouver International Airport up 4.3 per cent in April and 3.2 per cent in May, and commercial restaurant receipts up 7.7 per cent in April.

The Best Place on Earth campaign was not the only tourism promotion this spring. Tourism BC, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Whistler and other organizations have also had campaigns promoting regional visits.

Earlier this year, the provincial government committed to support domestic tourism marketing with both a summer and a winter television and print ad campaign.

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