New tourism strategy for Canada unveiled...but what exactly is it?
It's nice to see Ottawa finally paying some attention to tourism in this country. But I can't quite tell what exactly they're doing.
Minister of State for Tourism Maxime Bernier today unveiled what's being called the "Federal Tourism Strategy."
"The Strategy is based on a collaborative approach, coordinating tourism-related efforts of some 15 departments and agencies," officials said in a press release. "It provides the scope and direction that allows the government to play a more collaborative role with the industry as tourism owners and operators position themselves to take advantage of the rapid expansion in the global marketplace.
"The Strategy outlines the steps that the government is taking to implement this approach, including establishing new mechanisms to integrate tourism policy and program development across departments, formalizing industry engagement, maintaining a new tourism website and reporting annually on progress under the Strategy."
Tourism industry types were quick to heap praise on Bernier (never a bad idea, when you think about it).
The Federal Tourism Strategy is a strong commitment on the part of the government to promoting the growth of the travel and tourism sector, said the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).
"This whole-of-government approach to tourism will provide a new direction for the federal government to work with the industry to help spur tourism growth and create jobs," said David Goldstein, President and CEO of TIAC. "The Strategy demonstrates that the tourism sector is a priority economic sector for this government."
Canada's four largest airlines welcomed the news.
"I was pleased to note that the Federal Tourism Strategy recognizes the importance of tourism to the national economy," said NACC (National Airlines Council of Canada) President George Petsikas. "When the tourism industry succeeds, we all succeed."
I see a lot of talk about coordination, which is good. But I don't see any mention of dollars and can't quite tell what this really will mean.
One part of the government's press release says there are nearly 30 initiatives, including
Increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination;
-- Facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while protecting
the safety and integrity of Canada's borders;
-- Encouraging product development and investments in Canadian tourism
assets and products; and
-- Fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor
experiences through quality service and hospitality.
There's also talk about celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede next year, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.
"It's not a touchdown but it's a game-changing first down," Goldstein told me today. "It's not that there's an anti-tourism
lobby in Canada but we've suffered from benign neglect. Too many groups make decisions without consultation."
Goldstein said round-tables have been effective in helping the agriculture industry in Canada and that the approach should help
tourism. It's also a huge boost to have the Prime MInister standing behind the initiative.
Although no money is mentioned that I can see, Goldstein pointed out that some moves undoubtedly will have a cash component.
He also said he's pleased to see there's talk of providing relief from HST and GST for groups that bring in conventions.
The feds, to their credit, give tourism a pretty serious nod in their press release today.
In 2010, tourism was responsible for $73.4 billion in revenues and represented approximately 2 percent of
Canada's overall gross domestic product (GDP)," they said. "That's as much as the combined GDP of the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.
"Approximately 594,500 jobs in Canada are directly generated by tourism in every province and region of the country. Moreover, the visitor economy drives key service industries, including accommodations, food and beverage, passenger transportation, recreation and entertainment, which account for over 9 percent of total employment in Canada. Many of these jobs are in the North, Aboriginal communities and rural areas."