The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) launched its annual conference on 27 November, and there was much frank discussion of the successes that the industry has achieved over the past year, and the potential obstacles to be overcome moving into 2019.
Last year saw a significant increase in the number of international visitors heading to Canada, and the first eight months of 2018 saw a further 1.8-per-cent rise. This included a particularly striking 47-per-cent rise in the number of tourists coming from Mexico, largely because of the removal of certain visa requirements.
However, as TIAC President Charlotte Bell pointed out, there is ground left to cover. Canada is currently 17th in the UN World Tourism Organization’s international tourism rankings, and Bell expressed the TIAC’s desire to move into the top 10 by the year 2025. Additionally, on the way to meeting that goal, the TIAC hopes to increase international overnight visitation by 21 per cent and, by 2021, to double the number of Chinese visitors.
Bell went on to cite the results of a survey commissioned by the TIAC, which found that 90 per cent of Canadians agree that encouraging international travel was important in terms of creating jobs in Canada. “Politicians,” she said, “listen to what your constituents are saying.”
Other options discussed for increasing the number of foreign visitors to Canada included further streamlining the visa process, and increasing the number of countries included in Canada’s electronic travel authorisation programme; reducing the taxes that international visitors have to pay; increasing the funding allocated to Destination Canada, the country’s national tourism marketing body, in order to make it more competitive; and lobbying the government to include tourism as a key element of policy development.