Our tourism set to take `a bruising’

Tuesday, January 8th, 2002

Ashley Ford

B.C.’s beleaguered tourism industry could take another $400­million-revenue hit this year as the global travel fallout from Sept. 11 continues.

That will come on top of the expected drop of $800 million in revenue for 2001, Rod Harris, pres­ident and chief executive of Tourism B.C. told The Province in an interview from Victoria yes­terday.

“These are all very preliminary estimates,” Harris said, but he acknowledged the industry is in for a very bruising year.

“This is all new territory for us and is the first time we have ever seen this,” said Harris.

Tourism has been one of the few constant growing sectors in the B.C. economy for more than a decade. Tourism B.C.’s latest projections show revenues falling for 2001 (the official year-end is March), from $9.5 billion to $8.7 billion.

Harris now expects another five ­per-cent revenue drop in 2002 which would bring revenues to around the $8-billion level, a mas­sive total $1.2-billion revenue tum­ble in just two years.

But he remains upbeat. He said this year could work out better than anyone currently anticipates.

For instance, he said, it is just too early to predict how the key U.S. visitor market will respond. “We just don’t know at this point in time.”

Tourism Vancouver has the same outlook- projecting a drop of between nine per cent to 14 per cent in visitors this year.

It originally projected 8.8 mil­lion overnight visitors for 2002 and has now dropped that to 7.6 million to 8.1 million. That will result in a drop in direct spend­ing of over $200 million.

Walt Judas, spokesman for Tourism Vancouver, said it pro­jects there were 8.1 million overnight visitors last year, down from the predicted 8.6 million. He also stressed the numbers are very preliminary.

“Now we are projecting 7.6 mil­lion to eight million overnight vis­itors for 2002,” Judas said.

It’s difficult to gauge the possi­ble job impact, Harris said. The industry is one of the largest employers in B.C.’s economy and employs 115,000 directly.

But when you factor in indirect and tourism-dependent jobs the number rises to 235,000, he said.

“We simply have no data yet on how the situation might affect jobs,” he said.

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