About the Canadian Tourism Industry
Tourism means business in Canada. With $102 billion in total economic activity and 1.8 million jobs related to the sector, tourism is one of the few truly national industries that generates business in every region, province, territory, town and community.
The travel and tourism sector provides a vital stimulus to Canada’s commercial growth through the visitor economy. This is especially true because of the amount of economic activity which the sector draws into the country.
Globally, tourism is booming. International travel between countries represents the fourth largest export sector in the global economy, with over 1.23 billion international travellers spending $1.2 trillion USD outside their own borders in 2016.
In recent years, the Canadian travel and tourism industry has proven itself to be a strong and consistent engine of economic growth and job creation, during a time when other sectors are struggling due to global commodity prices and an unsteady dollar. This puts the industry in a favourable position that will help Canada reach its full potential in the years to come.
The Need For Sustainable Growth
While Canada’s numbers continue to grow, our market share of the tourism industry is not keeping pace with other countries. The UNWTO ranks Canada as 17th in overall visitation globally when we had been as high as 8th in 2000. Canada is also the only country to fall out of the top ten since 2000.
The recent much-needed and long overdue increase in international visitation, favourable currency exchange and federal support of Connecting America are all positive signs. Yet a single year’s result does not make a sustainable pattern. Further, the 2015 performance reinforces two systemic weaknesses of Canadian tourism: the impact of currency fluctuation and a reliance on domestic travel.
Canada’s market share of international tourism will continue to weaken without addressing key labour, access, cost competitiveness, and marketing funding issues as identified by TIAC. The 2015 results to date—strong international arrivals buoyed by favourable exchange rates—should be seen as a platform for continued improvement not a signal that the industry is performing at ideal levels.
TIAC's members believe that public policy challenges in four key areas are inhibiting growth in the sector: Labour, Access, Cost Competitiveness and Marketing Funding.
Path to immigration for all streams and for all skill levels that include hospitality
Immigration streams must meet labour market needs at all skill levels
Federal funded, skill and capacity programs that prioritize tourism jobs
ACCESS – VISA PROCESSING/BARRIERS TO ENTRY
Canada needs a streamlined visa process
Bring low-risk countries under the eTA program
Support pre-clearance -US border
Biometrics should be introduced in a staged-in approach only once appropriate resources and a strong communication campaign are in place
No additional federal fees and taxes on tourism products
Reduce fees, levies and taxes on air travel
Reintroduce incentives for foreign travellers through GST rebates or other means
MARKETING FUNDING TO SUPPORT TOURISM
No cuts to Destination Canada funding in future budgets
Establish long-term incremental funding model to boost tourism’s momentum