Quick glances of the latest Statistics Canada report on travel to and from Canada (based on September stats) once again highlight a call for governments to take a serious look at how they view the tourism industry. The good news is the rise in Americans crossing the border into Canada, up a modest 2.6%, and more day trips to Canada as well. The bad news is where the spotlight should be focused. International visitors are down by almost two per cent. Sadly, not a number that is unfamiliar to those in the industry.
In 2002, Canada welcomed 20 million foreign visitors and was the seventh largest tourist destination in the world. In 2012, only 16 million visitors came to Canada. Canada now ranks 18th in the world. How to address this situation and reinvigorate the industry was one of the more hotly debated issues facing delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy discussions at this year’s AGM. The Canadian Chamber is moving forward and will present the case that increasing the government’s investment in promoting our tourism brand internationally is good – not only for this critical sector of our economy, but for Canada’s overall economic competitiveness – to the 40+ MPs that make up the multi-party Tourism Caucus. The importance of this issue is highlighted on the Canadian Chamber website and in the accompanying video that you can find by clicking here.
Here in Manitoba, our organization continues to work with stakeholders to present the case to government to help develop a sustainable funding model for tourism. The Manitoba Chambers, like all those working towards a better province, need to think outside the box and get creative. No longer can an organization simply approach government with their hands out and say “give us money”. There is a need for industries and their advocates to, for a lack of a better term, put their money where their mouth is. The case for tourism in Manitoba is one you might have heard before. Tourism brings in more than $1.5 billion dollars to the Manitoba economy while only receiving $7.4 million in return from government, creating an incredibly profitable return on investment. Now is the time to develop a sustainable funding model with the goal of increasing tourism in Manitoba. What that model is and how it would work needs to be addressed heading into budget consultations but it should be viewed, by all sides, as a win-win for all involved. The increase funding would allow for better marketing, more focused advertising and for more people to visit Manitoba and spend their dollars here.
Together, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber will continue to make the case for tourism and will grow this important sector to our economy.
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce