Mario ToneguzziAlberta offers international tourists numerous places to visit. And international visitors seem to love coming to this province.

Last year, international visitors (including business travellers) spent almost $2.2 billion in the province. And spending in the first three months of 2019 was 26 per cent higher than during the same period last year, says a report released on Wednesday by ATB Financial’s Economics & Research Team.

“According to Statistics Canada’s Visitor Travel Survey, international residents made 2.38 million visits to Alberta in 2018. The number of visits was up by 15 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of 2018,” cites ATB’s daily economic update The Owl.

“Ontario is the most popular destination, accounting for 44 per cent of all visits last year, followed by British Columbia at 24 per cent, Quebec at 14 per cent and Alberta at 6.7 per cent.”

ATB said spending by international visitors to Alberta represented about 10 per cent of the total amount spent in Canada by visitors last year.  The most was spent in Ontario (34 per cent of the Canadian total) followed by B.C. (30 per cent) and Quebec (16 per cent).

“The proportion of visitors to Alberta is almost evenly split between those from the U.S. (51 per cent) and those from the rest of the world (49 per cent). Nationally, it is 74 per cent U.S. visitors compared to just 26 per cent from countries other than the U.S.,” said ATB.

 “Tourism is a growth industry for Alberta and, hopefully, the strong showing at the start of 2019 will be the story for the year as a whole.”

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that foreign visitors spent $303 million (10.1 per cent of the national total) in the Prairie provinces in the first quarter of the year. The Canadian Rockies tourism region in Alberta comprised 28.9 per cent of all foreign travel spending in the Prairies, with overseas visitors contributing just under two-thirds of all travel expenditures in the region (or an estimated $56.3 million), it said.

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