If Canadian tourism is going down the tubes, then why such silence?
Good story in today's Globe and Mail Report on Business, where columnist Barrie McKenna writes about the new Brand USA campaign.
We've covered the campain in great deal in this space and in Star Travel, with stories on the multicultural nature of the program and the big budget and the fun song by Roseanne Cash. It's a good story for the U.S., which is placing a renewed emphasis on tourism and will be putting out ads aimed at luring Canadians and our nearly equal dollars to places like New York and Chicago and Miami and Los Angeles and, judging by this photo, maybe Wyoming or Colorado.
McKenna today writes about the Canadian angle, though, and notes that the Brand USA campaign "is scaring the daylights out of the tourism industry in Canada."
He quotes David Goldstein, chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, as saying that the American giant has awoken.
"They're the best marketers on the planet, and they're putting their shoulder into it. It's frightening to our industry."
McKenna notes that Ottawa in March slashed the Canadian Tourism Commission's budget from $72 million to $58.5 million; a huge cut. And he notes the budget was more than $100 million a mere decade ago.
He quotes Tony Pollard, head of the Hotel Association of Canada, as saying the U.S. is expanding just as Canada shrinks its tourism budget.
"It's a problem, absolutely," Pollard said.
Earlier this year, Pollard was quoted as saying that ten years ago, 35 percent of tourism revenue in Canada came from the international market; today it is down to only 20 percent. Due to lack of funding, the CTC has been forced to exit many markets including Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and major cuts in Japan and the United States."
The numbers are pretty clear. But here's the deal. Are there any visible signs of a campaign to drive this point home?
Tourism is a hugely important factor in the Canadian economy. But where is the publicity to try to counteract the issue?
Since the CTC cuts came in March, I don't think I've had a single email from anyone in TIAC complaining about the issue. If they did send me one, it was either a one-off note or dramatically undersold. Why not pick up the phone and contact the travel section of the biggest paper in the country? Why not start a social media campaign of some sort, or set up a conference with tourism officials from across the country and get some publicity?
Ditto for the hotel association. If they're so worried about this problem, why such stunning silence? Or if not silence, why such a feeble reaction?
If there's a crisis, folks, somebody ought to making a lot more noise.
GREECE ON THE REBOUND?
Good news from Greece on Sunday, I think, with the election of a government that seems to want to stay in the Euro zone. Reverting to the drachma might make things cheaper for tourists, but a new sense of stability might be better in terms of bringing in tourists.
Travelmole.com today is reporting that Greece "is calling on the help of volunteer holidaymakers and the goodwill of operators, hoteliers and airlines to 'set the record straight' after suffering months of bad publicity.
The tourist office and major Greek enterprises have developed an online interactive platform - TrueGreece.org - for visitors to share their travel experiences in an attempt to counter concerns about the country's economic difficulties and political unrest.
Tour operators, airlines and hoteliers are being asked to give away freebies to fund trips for holidaymakers who will then be asked to write, blog and tweet about their experience.
Tourist chiefs are now on the hunt for goodwill social-media savvy volunteers, known as True Greece's True Supporters, who will work from home, for free, to spread the "good Greek word" about what it means to experience the real Greece."
I provided a link in this space last week to a blog written by Krystal Yee, the Star's Moneyville blogger, on just this issue. She's been in Greece lately and had a wonderful time.
Her story is printed in today's Moneyville section of the Star, but here's the link...