TOURISM became one of the major revenue producers in the BC economy during the 1980s and 1990s as a growing number of visitors were attracted by the province's congenial climate and natural beauty. In 2004, 22.4 million overnight visits were recorded. Of these visitors, 11 million, or about 49%, were from BC. US visitors accounted for almost 5 million overnight trips, or 22% of the total, and other Canadians paid 4.7 million visits. Overseas visitors made up 7.4% of the tourism market. In 2018 tourists spent an estimated $20.5 billion in BC and all of this activity supported 161,500 direct tourism-related jobs. Tourism British Columbia, a CROWN CORPORATION established in 1997, is mandated to promote tourism in the province.

As the number of visitors to the province increases, so does concern about the impact of tourism on the ENVIRONMENT. Ecotourism—travel that promotes environmental protection and does no harm to the environment—is the fastest growing part of the tourism sector. In 1998 it accounted for just 7% of tourist activity but it was growing 3 times faster than the sector overall. In 1987 several adventure tourism operators created the Wilderness Tourism Council to promote ecotourism and to resist industrial and other developments that threaten natural areas. See chart listing BC tourism statistics.