TORONTO, Feb. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Canada's tourism operators want a renewed
focus on marketing to the United States even if it means diverting
resources from emerging markets that may show a great deal of long-term
A survey by HLT Advisory prepared in advance of the Canadian Tourism Marketing SummitFeb. 12-13 in Toronto found 79 per cent of respondents agreed or
strongly agreed with a proposal to focus scarce marketing resources on
the US market.
That's an astounding level of agreement: the more than 600 respondents
represent a cross-section of the country's tourism industry including
destination marketing organizations, lodging providers, those who put
together festivals and events, transportation and service companies and
other industry suppliers.
The CTC backed away from marketing to the US in 2011, opting to instead
direct resources to raising awareness in emerging markets such as China
and leaving the American market to provinces and cities.
While the focus on emerging markets has yielded some positive results,
tourism operators believe the provinces and cities haven't been able to
coordinate the sort of efforts needed to attract American tourists - an
essential component of the Canadian industry given a population of 300
million is right next door.
Tourism is essential to the health of the broader economy, generating
$81.7-billion and employing more than 600,000 Canadians from
coast-to-coast. The Conference Board of Canada recently underscored its
importance, pointing out that travel and tourism make a bigger
contribution to gross domestic product than agriculture, fishing and
While those in the industry are supportive of any plan that once again
shifts focus to the US, it's not a simple proposition. Fewer than 10
per cent of respondents support a new tax or fee to support the effort,
with 90 per cent hoping the federal government will come through
despite deep budget cuts across all departments as the feds look to
eliminate the deficit.
There is also a split amongst tourism operators on how best to spend any
money that is available - half would like to see it managed by a
central agency such as the CTC, half would prefer a decentralized (but
coordinated) effort from cities and provinces. "It's telling that the
survey found a significant interest in decentralized marketing
responsibility yet one of the greatest challenges facing the Canadian
tourism industry was identified as lack of alignment between the
various marketing entities" said Lyle Hall, Managing Director of HLT Advisory. "Coordination is a key way of
ensuring the best use of limited dollars."
Regardless of which measures are taken, just over half of the
respondents believe Canada can get back to the levels of international
visitation last seen in 2000 by 2017 (19.6 million international
visitors), something that is sure to be addressed at the Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit. "The only way to achieve aggressive growth targets, whether visitation
or visitor spending, is to re-engage with our largest, closest and
wealthiest market: the United States," Mr. Hall said, adding focus
areas should include the border states, U.S. cities with non-stop air
access to Canadian cities and meeting and convention opportunities
About Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit
Now in its fourth year, the Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit examines the importance of (and the required activities) supporting
tourism marketing, with a focus on bringing international visitors
to Canada as well as domestic travel.