By Carole Rooney
100 Mile House Free Press
Tourism in the nation gets a failing grade from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a discussion paper it published this summer.
Restoring Canadian Tourism states that while the global market for tourism is growing at an “astonishing” rate, Canada’s share is shrinking.
It notes the tourism sector is “intensely” competitive – and Canada is not successfully competing.
“Canada’s ‘brand’ is consistently in the top three worldwide with high interest from travellers,” the report states.
“Yet, despite its stellar reputation, tourism in Canada is still punching below its weight.”
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association president Pat Corbett says Canada’s largest service industry export is the Canadian tourism industry.
“It is imperative for the Canadian economy to maximize all industry sector opportunities, and the current federal-government policies are restricting the flow of people to Canada. Much like a pipeline to allow the flow of gas and oil from source to market, we need government actions to open up the valve allowing foreign tourists to come, as they once did.”
The discussion paper is an “excellent” document on the changes required to improve federal tourism policies, he adds.
A decade ago, Canada was among the top 10 destinations in international arrivals, but the report indicates it has slid since then, from seventh to 16th place.
“Canada’s decline is not because it has suddenly become less beautiful, engaging or safe – characteristics that have always drawn visitors here,” notes the report.
“Rather, Canada has failed to respond to changing realities. It has failed to respect the growing choices travellers have, and it has failed to fight for its future.”
Corbett agrees with the discussion paper’s viewpoint that public policy changes are needed to increase the flow of foreigners back into the country, as, he notes, has been successfully done in the United States.
“… We need governmental commitment to the public policy changes recommended in the [Restoring Canadian Tourism] report to open up the flow of foreign tourists to Canada.”
If this is done domestically, he says it will represent billions of dollars in sector revenues and millions in new government tax revenues, as well as thousands of jobs for small businesses across many Canadian communities.
For more information download the 12 page discussion paper at www.chamber.ca/publications/reports/