TOPIC - It’s time to show tourism 'the love'
Darlene Grant Fiander - Tourism Connection
(Originally published in the July 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal)
At a time when countries all over the world are waking up to the value and opportunity a healthy tourism industry can have for their struggling economies, Canada has taken a step backwards.
In March, the federal government announced cuts to the Canadian Tourism Commission, the body responsible for marketing Canada, which will see a reduction in 2013 to $58.5 million. This steady reduction, down from $100 million a decade ago, is greatly contributing to Canada’s eroding international market share. To put things in perspective, 10 years ago 35 per cent of tourism revenue in Canada came from the international market; today it is down to only 20 per cent.
In comparison, as the United States finds a renewed love for tourism, it is investing millions to keep Americans home and an additional $20 million this year to convince Canadians to join them. By now many of you have seen the Brand USA campaigns encouraging us to cross the border and spend our money there.
As well as not being competitive from a marketing perspective, Canada has become one of the most expensive destinations for air travel in the world. As I mentioned in a previous column, last year over five million Canadians went to the U.S. to purchase cheaper airline tickets, in many cases to fly to other parts of Canada.
While these national issues work themselves out, at a provincial level we need to do what we can to open up access into the province and encourage business.
The recent announcement by the provincial government to establish an expert panel to review the research on ferry service into southwest Nova Scotia was welcome news; however, every day with limited access into the province we continue to lose business. The reality is that numerous jobs have been lost — ferry workers, dockyard workers — hotels have closed as have many small businesses. This was not just a ferry to Nova Scotia, it was highway to the United States, one of the most lucrative markets in the world.
For rural revitalization this access point is key. It is time to reestablish a link to the United States and get back to building trade and tourism into the province. With a new business model that is integrated and supported by existing marketing efforts, this could be the beginning of renewed interest in the Nova Scotia destination. Now is the time.
Darlene Grant Fiander is the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and executive director of the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council. Darlene has worked in the tourism industry for over 25 years. You can reach Darlene at firstname.lastname@example.org