Tourism is an important econmic generator for the Nanaimo area. In addition to revenues generated in recreation, travel, retail, restaurant and accommodation industries, the economic benefits of tourism are widely distributed throughout a network of businesses that support these industries with goods and services. Tourists are drawn to Vancouver Island's natural beauty and open spaces and enjoy a variety of recreational activities, access to cultural amenities, and affordable accommodation.
October 2010 business license data from the City of Nanaimo indicates that there were 314 businesses in the accommodation and food service sectors in the City of Nanaimo, accounting for 5.34% of all businesses.
The accommodation and food service sector is the third largest employment sector in Nanaimo, accounting for 9% of the total labour market, providing 3,455 jobs (2006 census). This sector has seen job grown of 9.5% between 2001 and 2006.
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