January 16 2013 by Bryson Forbes
I recently spoke with Tony Pollard who is the President of the Hotel Association of Canada and regular panel expert at our Canadian Best Western Travel Summits about the look ahead at 2013 for the hospitality industry. Tony reiterated what he said to me earlier in 2012, he is extremely concerned about a big drop of inbound International travelers to Canada in 2013.
Canada has always enjoyed and benefited from a stellar international reputation as a very safe and welcoming country. Those who have traveled across this majestic country also know how diverse and beautiful each region can be. Our economy has been, for the most part, very stable during a challenging economic time for many countries, especially for parts of Europe and the US, yet our rank as an international destination has steadily declined from a high of 7th in 2002 all the way to 16th. In fact we have dropped behind countries like Mexico, Turkey, Singapore and Malaysia.
While many point to the fact that our currency has jumped 25 to 30% against the US dollar since 2002 it is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest culprit is our marketing of Canada or lack there of. The budgets to market Canada has been steadily decreasing and in 2013 is going to drop a further $14.2 million dollars from $72M in 2012 to less than $58M. In isolation this would be cause for concern but when you couple that with the major marketing push coming from Barack Obama's Brand USA efforts, Canada as a destination is in a precarious situation.
The Canadian tourism industry is an integral component of our economy. In 2010, it generated $78.8 billion and the Canadian Tourism Commission has set a goal of $100 billion by 2015. This speaks to the importance of generating traffic to our country.
The encouraging news for Canada however is that we have the most difficult part of the equation already solved. Canada as a product is phenomenal. We are among the safest places on earth, our diversity combined with our friendliness and welcoming disposition make visiting a very enjoyable experience. The landscape is also diverse and beautiful. We have world-class cities, majestic landmarks and natural beauty that are very marketable.
Let's spread the word! Time to take some of that patriotic enthusiasm that boiled over in Vancouver at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and tell the world we are open for business and ready to welcome you in 2013.
What is your favourite Canadian destination and why?