Reinstating funding for the Canadian Tourism Commission to resume consumer marketing in the United States is the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s primary request to the Canadian government for the 2014 federal budget. This was revealed to almost 100 members of Manitoba’s tourism industry who gathered for a town hall meeting organized by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) in Winnipeg on June 10.
This cross-country tour saw TIAC president David Goldstein and CTC Senior Vice-President of Strategy and Corporate Communications Paul Nursey share their respective organizations’ goals to grow tourism in Canada.
In addition to the request for funding to “recapture USA”, Goldstein talked about TIAC’s efforts to bring the 15 different federal agencies that make policies that affect the tourism industry together through the Federal Tourism Strategy.
“We are competing with a bunch of other sectors that go to the Canadian government and say ‘I have the fix for Canada’s economy,’” said Goldstein. “There is no other industry that creates investment, business and jobs in every riding in Canada.”
Part of TIAC’s lobbying efforts is to change the taxation structure that has stunted tourism’s growth.
“Canada has been a leader in the past, but has stumbled,” said Goldstein, noting that our aviation policy is 12 years out of date, that tourism is the only export sector not “zero-rated” for GST and that Canada is the only G8 country without a value-added tax (VAT) rebate. “We have taxed ourselves out of the marketplace.”
But Goldstein is confident that an emerging consensus from opinion leaders and experts that these policies are unnecessarily hindering Canada’s economy will help sway public policy direction. Increased media coverage of tourism issues in the business section of newspapers as well as new reports that show that when there is more travel between countries there is more trade between countries will encourage politicians to listen more closely.
He also encouraged the tourism operators in the room to contact their Member of Parliament to share the value of tourism message. With just three clicks on TIAC’s website, you can access a form email to your local MP, and their site also features other tools like draft letters and op-ed pieces.
“There isn’t an MP who has said ‘I don’t like tourism’. But it isn’t top of mind,” said Goldstein, urging operators to invite their MP to visit their business as politicians gear up for the next federal election which is just over 800 days away.
And part of TIAC’s efforts in the next 800 days will be to convey the importance of increased funding for marketing – every single competitor has increased their international marketing budgets, but the CTC’s level of funding, which Goldstein called “shameful” is set to decline again next year.
Despite the reduction in marketing funding, both Goldstein and Nursey noted that Canada’s domestic travel market is doing very well, with domestic tourism receipts growing at a rate that is outpacing the Canadian economy. But international markets are much more lucrative and the increase in outbound international travellers is growing exponentially.
“Competition is fierce,” said Nursey. “But we can get through this. We are a very resilient industry”.
Canada has very high brand recognition and was listed as the most recommended place to visit, a nod to the stellar tourism operators in the country, said Nursey.
“Those who do come have very high satisfaction and a high rate of return visit. Once they try, they will come back.”
The trick is getting them to come to Canada in first place. Based on the strength of the Canada Keep Exploring brand and the research on target segments offered by the Explorer Quotient, the CTC is enticing international travellers through its Signature Experiences Collection, of which there are now eight Manitoba members.
“Landscapes are wonderful, but in this world of authenticity, people want to have an emotional connection.” Nursey said. “Customers are craving local experiences.”
Nursey urged industry to use the hashtag #exploreCanada to feed content into the CTC’s social media and to bring Manitoba experiences into its national marketing efforts.
Other CTC initiatives include a pilot program which will see the CTC leverage Brand USA’s market muscle, by aggressively intercepting customers at the point of purchase – getting them to add Canada to their US trip. This dual-nation vacation approach will be targeted at key long-haul marketing including Australia, South Korea and Brazil and will feature a strong emphasis on the travel trade.
Nursey also spoke about the CTC’s strategy to promote and generate interest in Canada as a travel destination for our country’s youth in 2017 – Canada’s 150th birthday.
“If we don’t inspire the next generation of Canadian youth to travel in Canada, our 80% domestic market is in trouble,” he added. “We need to compel them through deals, offers and special events to discover Canada – that there is something exciting here.”
The town hall concluded with a presentation from Travel Manitoba President and CEO Colin Ferguson as well as greetings from the Province of Manitoba brought by the Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Flor Marcelino.
See the presentation from TIAC president, David Goldstein.
See the presentation from CTC Senior Vice-President of Strategy and Corporate Communications, Paul Nursey.