The need for cross-country cooperation and support for an industry-aligned marketing campaign in the U.S. were the main agenda items at the Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers’ meeting co-chaired by the Honourable Bardish Chagger, the Minister of Small Business and Tourism and the Honourable Ron Lemieux, Manitoba’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection.

The meeting, held in Winnipeg on January 14, gave provinces the opportunity to provide updates on their respective government’s successes and challenges, while reinforcing their support for the three-year marketing campaign in the U.S. launching this spring to boost travel to Canada. The U.S. represents approximately 70 percent of total overnight visits in Canada.

“Tourism is part of every Canadian community,” said Minister Chagger in a release. “That is why we must all come together to champion the Canada brand and continue to attract travellers from around the world.”

The ministers also discussed new efforts to streamline visa application processes and they identified the need for a new strategy to support continued collaboration on tourism.

“Tourism is an economic driver in every region of our country, and we had productive discussions about opportunities for growing the sector and increasing visits, tourism spending and job creation,” said Minister Lemieux in the release. “In particular, I am pleased to see the work across jurisdictions and with the private sector that is resulting in a re-entry into the U.S. marketing. I look forward to building on this momentum as we collectively position our tourism sector for growth in the future.”

A key area identified for growth is Indigenous tourism, which, according to the National Aboriginal Tourism Research Project 2015, has grown substantially since 2001, accounting for $2.77 billion in gross economic output and employing approximately 2 percent of the entire Canadian travel sector workforce.

Across all tourism sectors, the Canadian tourism industry remains the number one service export sector, with revenues growing nearly five percent to $88.5 billion and supporting close to 628,000 jobs across the country.