#Tourism Trending in Ottawa? Flurry of Political Dialogue on Tourism a Sign that Sector’s Message Resonating in all Directions
Travel and tourism have been hot topics in Ottawa of late as opinion leaders from diverse backgrounds look for innovative ways to spur the Canadian economy.
In recent days and weeks, some of Canada’s most distinguished voices have boldly identified tourism policies as hindering our country’s economic growth and have called for swift government action on tourism matters to restore Canada’s global economic competitiveness. Government officials have also chimed in on the debate, noting some of Canada’s recent tourism successes.
Those prominent figures engaging publicly on tourism issues in recent weeks include:
- The Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- The Hon. Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
- The Hon. Christian Paradis, Conservative M.P. and Minister of Industry
- The Hon. Scott Brison, Liberal M.P. and Finance Critic
- François Lapointe, N.D.P. M.P. and Critic for Small Business and Tourism
The public nature of the discourse is a tell-tale sign that our sector’s message is becoming increasingly impactful in the halls of Parliament Hill and in the political media.
A Canadian Economic Opportunity Squandered: Tourism Policy Named to Top Ten List of Competitiveness Barriers
In a widely-publicized speech yesterday before the Economic Club of Canada, Mr. Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce singled out Canada’s uncompetitive travel and tourism strategies as one of the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013. The announcement affirms that public policy challenges are not only inhibiting growth within the travel and tourism sector itself, but squandering one of the great Canadian economic opportunities, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).
With unprecedented growth in international tourism demand, Canada’s travel industry could make a more meaningful contribution to the Canadian economy if not for structural challenges particularly in the areas of tourism marketing and access to Canada.
“There is an unparalleled opportunity to drive export activity and create jobs by increasing international travel to Canada, but this won’t occur without public policy fixes,” said David Goldstein, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. “Attracting lucrative international visitors requires competitive investment in international marketing and aviation policy freed from excessive taxes, fees and levies.”
“Through a combination of high transportation costs and steadily reduced marketing efforts, Canada has slipped from seventh place among the world’s tourism destinations to 18th place in just a decade,” said Beatty. “A huge industry, critical in every region, is struggling with its competitiveness and needs public policies that are forward looking and supportive.”
Beatty also outlined a number of other key challenges hindering economic growth, many of which directly reflect concerns in the travel and tourism sector, including:
- The lack of access to venture capital and direct investment;
- A focus on slow-growing, traditional markets and a lack of access to new markets in Asia, Africa and South America;
- Inadequate public infrastructure planning and development;
- A overly complex tax structure; and
- Labour and skills shortages
“The 2013 ‘Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness’ report once again highlights the gross skills shortage in the Canadian workforce, hugely uncertain and inadequate infrastructure funding, an overly complex tax system and, for the first time, a weakening tourism industry,” said Liberal Finance Critic Scott Brison in a statement following the announcement.
The Chamber’s influential list is published annually to draw attention to the barriers hindering our country’s ability to compete globally.
Click here to view a copy of the Chamber’s 2013 Top Ten Competitiveness Barriers report.
Tourism Fixes Also on Liberal Leader Bob Rae’s Budget Wish List
Just two weeks prior, the Hon. Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada listed tourism policy fixes among the priorities his party would like to see addressed in the 2013 federal budget. In an open letter to the Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Mr. Rae recommended that the federal government do what it takes to return Canada to a place among the top ten countries in international arrivals by 2015.
“If we want to avoid making this tepid economic growth our ‘new normal’, we must take these sensible steps now to increase Canada’s job creation and competitiveness.”
Click here to view a copy of Mr. Rae’s open letter to Minister Flaherty.
Tourism Competitiveness Discussed in Question Period
Tourism Competitiveness was also discussed during last Friday’s Question Period in an exchange between François Lapointe, the NDP’s critic for Small Business and Tourism and the Hon. Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. Lapointe’s question called for increased marketing for the Canadian Tourism Commission, while Paradis touched on the rapid growth from China, India and Brazil.