Metro Vancouver received 8.4 million overnight visitors in 2010, including 5.2 million from within Canada, 1.9 million from the U.S., 723,000 from the Asia-Pacific region and 443,000 from Europe. Additional markets accounted for 117,000 visitors. The fastest growing markets included China, Mexico, Brazil and Australia. Visitors spent more than half their Vancouver vacation budget on accommodation and dining, contributing a total spend of almost $4 billion to the local economy.
Vancouver is a key conference destination, particularly following the 2009 ex-pansion to the city’s waterfront Convention Centre (www.vancouverconventioncentre.com). The new structure tripled the centre’s size: it now covers 1.1 million square feet and has 72 meeting rooms in two main buildings: the iconic Canada Place and the dramatic new grass-roofed West Building.
In 2011, the city enjoyed its strongest ever convention year, filling more than 225,000 hotel rooms and hosting 25 citywide conventions. Delegates spent an estimated $92.6 million in the city, the average stay was over three days and convention business generated almost $1 billion for the Metro Vancouver econ-omy.
Just over 663,000 revenue passengers on 199 sailings passed through Port Metro Vancouver (www.portmetrovancouver.com) facilities in 2011, a 15 percent rise over 2010. In 2010, cruise ship passengers spent almost $70 million in the region, contributing to an economic impact of more than $121 million.
Vancouver’s Canada Place and Ballantyne Pier are major terminals for cruise ship journeys to and from Alaska during the May to September season. The cruises, which run up to two weeks, follow one of two main routes – although each shares the same path along a tranquil, fijorded coastline of islands known as the Inside Passage. As a world-renowned destination in its own right, Van-couver is a popular feature of many Alaska cruises, offering passengers a “two-for-one” vacation that combines a great city experience with a spectacular wil-derness odyssey. In addition, Vancouver is the only home port for one-way In-side Passage cruises.
The spectacular, island-studded Inside Passage route has long been the tradi-tional way to cruise Alaska – ships complete a round-trip voyage from Vancouver through glacier country as far north as Skagway or Juneau. Only ships sailing from Vancouver follow this signature route, arguably the world’s most iconic wilderness cruise and one of the best ways to view B.C.’s dramatic glacier-carved scenery. In contrast, ships on the longer Gulf of Alaska route cover more territory – they travel beyond the Inside Passage as far as Anchorage.
Canada Place – the city landmark with the boat sail design – is located in Van-couver’s downtown core at the north foot of Burrard Street. Refurbished and upgraded in 1995, Ballantyne Pier – at 655 Centennial Road – is about one kilometre (half-mile) east. There’s a free shuttle between the two facilities. The London-based Berlitz travel publishing company has named Port Metro Vancouver as North America’s most passenger-friendly cruise facility.
Canada Place hosts one of the country’s largest Canada Day celebrations every July 1st, featuring food stands, live music, cultural performances and a giant fireworks display. There’s also a popular ceremony where new citizens are publicly welcomed to Canada.