Now is the time for “more traction and more action” in Canadian tourism – particularly in the U.S. market, which is moving past its economic woes and ready to begin exploring the world once again.
That was the message delivered by David Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), at the Tourism Town Hall in Winnipeg on June 19.
“Canada has some catching up to do,” David told the crowd. “In 2002 we were seventh in the world for international arrivals. Now we’re now 17th.”
Much of the slippage in Canada’s numbers is due to the post-2008 decline in traffic from the U.S, but today TIAC sees many encouraging signs of recovery.
“Americans are travelling again and interest in Canada is still strong,” David said.
He cited results of a comprehensive survey targeting U.S. leisure travellers by PhoCusWright Research. When Americans planning vacations were asked about their top-of-mind destinations, Canada was mentioned three times more than Disneyworld. The results also showed that 22 per cent of Americans think they’ve seen Canadian travel ads, even though Canada’s advertising program in the U.S. was halted several years ago.
“Just imagine what we could do if we really had a campaign down there!” he said.
He added that the number of American passport owners has doubled since 2002, signalling a stronger desire for international travel.
However, David says competition for those travellers is fierce. A new campaign launched by Brand USA is fighting to keep American travellers at home while also eating into Canada’s own domestic traffic.
“Now is the time to go after the U.S. market. We know that once they come here, they will return.”
To help the industry show its support for renewed public/private investment in the U.S. leisure market, TIAC has posted advocacy tools on its website.