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Greater Victoria, BC News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
3/1/2013 Published Article
Growing Canada’s Tourism

In Canada, tourism means business. The $78.8 billion in total economic activity in this sector supports 603,400 jobs. Globally, tourism is booming. International travel between countries represents the fourth-fastest growing export sector in the global economy, with a billion international travelers spending $1 trillion outside their own borders in 2011. This growth is being fuelled in part by emerging economies, with an influx of new travelers from China, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico eager, and now finally able, to explore the world. At the same time, many of these and other emerging economies are turning aggressively towards tourism as an opportunity to grow their own economy, intensifying the competition for international travelers.

Canada’s historic reliance on the United States market – which has traditionally provided 75% of Canada’s international visitors – has proven to be particularly troubling in light of a decline of 55.5% of these customers since 2000. The loss of United States visitation and the emergence of a wider competitive spectrum have contributed to Canada’s fall from 7th place in international arrivals in 2002 to 18th place in 2011.
These declines in international visits coupled with the near-doubling of the spending for Canadians travelling outside the country has contributed to Canada’s ballooning travel deficit. Standing at almost $16 billion at the end of 2011, this number has increased six-fold over just the past decade.

Government at all levels must react to bolster Canada’s appeal as a globally competitive tourism destination. They can do this by targeting three major areas:

  • Marketing: Canada’s marketing budget is currently too small to compete with other destinations, and lack of predictability limits the effectiveness.
  • Access:  The high cost of air travel and difficulty acquiring travel visas puts Canada at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
  • Product:  A tourism destination needs to have continual improvement and renewal and we have been underinvested in this area for too long. The Victoria Chamber will work with all its partners to address the needs of this driving sector in Canada, BC and Victoria.
Without a concerted effort to promote our region, province and nation, Canada will continue to slip behind other countries with more aggressive campaigns and more supportive tourism policies.

The situation with tourism growth is not isolated. Canada’s competitiveness continues to be severely challenged as traditional and emerging economies aggressively strive to occupy the global economic landscape. In fact, our country’s ability to remain a leader among nations continues to decline. A 2012 World Economic Forum report ranked Canada 14th in global economic competitiveness—down two places from 2011 and sliding five places since 2009.

Improving Canada’s competitiveness requires an ambitious, aggressive and innovative private sector, and supportive public policy. The Victoria Chamber, in conjunction with the BC Chamber and Canadian Chamber, advocates for this support.

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