Tourism is big.
Yeah, well, take a breath.
As we noted in 2008, actual tourists - non-resident visitors in Gov Speak - actually contributed only 43% of the total attributed to the revenue in the provincial economy from "tourism."
Well, according to the tourism department's annual statistics, the share of "tourism" spending represented by actual tourists is about the same. Mitchelmore's release is based on statistics up to June. We really need to wait until the year is out to see where things stand. If you look at the annual number of non-resident visitors since 2003, you can see the numbers have been hovering around the average of 483,000 people since about 2006.
There's a major anomaly in 2010 that could well be a counting error. By the same token, 2011 might be an undercount such that you have a pair of outliers in there.
Here are the numbers in a pretty chart.
Those visitors have gone from spending about $300 million to $492 million in 2015. That's the blue line in the chart below.
But just to see if there is any meaningful growth in the non-resident visitors' economic impact, the red line in that chart shows spending in constant 2003 dollars. We figured that out using the provincial government's own inflation calculator. As you can see, there has been some growth: $93 million constant dollars over the past dozen years.
So yeah, there has been some steady growth in non-resident spending in the province over the past decade or so. As for the actual number of visitors, that hasn't shown the same steady growth. In fact, it has been hovering around the same number since 2006. The number of non-resident visitors actually dropped in the years Kent was claiming growth. Given the way the NRV numbers have been over the past couple of years, Mitchelmore's enthusiastic news release was likely a bit too much for the data to support. Given that he issued it in August based on numbers that were two months old, you really do have to wonder the value in hyping the stock toward the end of the peak tourism season.
CRA is in the field.