TORONTO, ONT. – Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for tourism met today to discuss ways to strengthen the competitiveness of Canada’s tourism industry. The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), and the Honourable Monique Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, co-chaired the meeting.
Ministers expressed confidence that the long-term growth potential for tourism in Canada is strong despite the immediate challenges faced by the sector as a result of the current economic climate. The federal, provincial and territorial governments recognized the vital role tourism plays with respect to the Canadian economy. A key outcome of the meeting was to work towards a national tourism revenue target of $100 billion by 2015. Ministers agreed the target is supported by government efforts to grow tourism in Canada.
“Back in 2006, tourism ministers set a target of $75 billion in tourism revenues by 2010,” said Minister Ablonczy. “According to Statistics Canada, we have reached revenues of $74.7 billion in 2008. The new 2015 target allows us to build on this past success.”
The Honourable Monique Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, said that it is imperative for provincial and territorial ministers to discuss the importance of tourism within a national context. “It is clear through today’s discussions that tourism is an important sector not only here in Ontario but across Canada,” said Minister Smith. “By working together and sharing our ideas and strategies with each other, we are providing insight into common issues the industry faces and helping to advance the national tourism agenda.”
Ministers heard from industry representatives and acknowledged that tourism is an economic driver that creates jobs and generates economic activity across the country. The meeting provided a forum to share information on positive measures adopted in all jurisdictions to help alleviate the impact of the current economic climate and advance the long-term potential of the tourism industry.
Provincial and territorial ministers welcomed the opportunity to hear from Minister of State Ablonczy on the development of a new Federal Tourism Strategy. They recognized that significant resources are invested in tourism by all levels of government, not only through tourism-specific programs. They also committed to work within their governments to help ensure that broader policies, programs and measures in all departments are implemented in ways that support tourism.
Canada’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird also presented at this meeting. Minister Baird addressed the important relationship between tourism and air services.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping our tourism sector emerge stronger than ever and to maintaining Canada’s position as a top tourist destination,” said Baird. “We are taking steps now to make this happen, including an impressive air agreement strategy with other countries, the largest infrastructure renewal in decades and support for national parks, trails and tourism attractions across the country.”
Ministers also committed to continue joint efforts to take full advantage of the promotional opportunities linked to the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games that will help to raise the profile of Canada’s destinations worldwide.
The Ministers plan to meet again in 2010 to share perspectives and actions taken by their respective governments in support of the tourism sector, and to take stock of progress towards the $100 billion target.
TOURISM INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
Tourism is an important economic driver and community builder in all regions of Canada. In 2008, tourism activity generated over $74 billion in revenues, representing over 2% of Canada’s gross domestic product.(1) Tourism contributes as much to our country’s GDP as agriculture, fisheries and forestry combined.
The tourism industry encompasses a diverse range of service sectors; it is a mainstay of small business and the single largest employer of young people. These mainly small to medium size businesses are concentrated in eight sectors: accommodation, food & beverage, recreation & entertainment, transportation, tourism-related retail, car rentals, tour operators and travel agents. It is an important source of employment in many regions of Canada, directly employing over 660,000 Canadians.
All levels of Governments are engaged in tourism development including activities such as international and domestic marketing, research, industry development, infrastructure, attracting meetings and conventions, promoting incentive travel, and supporting festivals and events.
The public sector also has the responsibility for managing museums, visitor centres, parks and heritage sites, as well as preserving culture and natural resources and developing tourism policy. The private sector is at the heart of tourism, creating the products and services to meet the needs of travellers in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Overall tourism growth in the past few years has been driven by domestic tourism (Canadians traveling in Canada), accounting for 79% of total tourism receipts or $59.1 billion (2008). International tourism generated export revenues to Canada of $15.7 billion (2008). Canada’s most important international markets are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, China and Australia. The U.S. represents 73% (2008) of all international arrivals and approximately half of total foreign tourism spending.
Canada is ranked 15th in the world in terms of international tourist arrivals and receipts (2008), falling from 7th in international arrivals in 2002(2). Global tourism trends indicate that traditional destinations are losing market share to new and emerging destinations. While Europe and North America were the main international tourist destinations before the 1970s, since then Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle-East have increasingly become popular. This trend is expected to continue, due to globalization, the Internet, enhanced air access and the appeal of unique travel experiences.
Canada ranks highly in global country brand recognition, placing 2nd behind Australia in 2008.(3)
(1) Statistics Canada 2008 estimates, National Tourism Indicators
(2) UNWTO World Tourism Barometer
(3) Futurebrand 2008 Country Brand Index