Canadian tourism in decline despite global boom

Published on : Friday, November 15, 2013

canada-flagTourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, yet the number of international travellers to Canada has declined 20 per cent since 2000, according to a report from Deloitte & Touche.

Canada’s tourism industry is struggling to compete as the global travel business undergoes a sea change, according to the “Passport to Growth” report.

While Canadian destinations such as the Rockies and Niagara Falls have not lost their allure, the tourism sector has gone unrecognised by both government and business in its potential to drive growth, says the report, compiled by Deloitte partners Ryan Brain, Tom Peter and Lorrie King, based on Statistics Canada numbers.

Although tourism employed 600,000 Canadians and represents about two per cent of national GDP, the industry is falling behind in attracting the world’s emerging travellers.

Canada had 16 million international visitors in 2012, primarily from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Australia, according to the Canadian Tourism Association. A steep slide in U.S. visitors, in part because of the high Canadian dollar, has meant lower figures.

Canada sees only a small share of global international travel arrivals, which passed the one—billion-mark in 2012, having risen four per cent a year over the past 10 years. Canada was one of the most popular international tourist destinations in 1970, second only to Italy. Now it’s No. 18, and behind countries like Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.

Among those travelling more are young people, who explore the world before settling into education and a career, and tourists over age 60, who have greater disposable income and more time to travel. The Canadian industry needs to learn to tailor its products to these travellers to nab a share of tourism spending, which totalled US$1.075 trillion in 2012, the report said.

“What’s more, an increase in travellers to Canada could encourage Canadian companies to enter new markets internationally and experience greater competitive intensity, which we know results in periods of high productivity growth positively impacting the economy” Deloitte analysis suggests a one per cent increase in tourists to Canada generates an $817-million increase in Canadian exports over the following two years.

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