William Law - May 20, 2013

The Canadian Tourism Commission recently stated that trying to attract American tourists has become a waste of time and effort for them. Their promotional campaigns are not leading to acceptable return value for their investment. Even the territory of Ottawa, home of the moose, mountains, and Mounties, has lost interest in attracting U.S. tourists.

According to current reports, over the last decade the United States has become one of Canada's worst tourism markets. The data show that the average American tourist spent only $518 dollars per trip to Canada in 2012, which is the lowest average that's spent by any other group of international travelers to the Canadian territories.

This amount is admittedly extremely low, and US tourism to Canada has been on steady decline over the last three years. Individual travelers over the same period that arrived from Brazil spent an average of $1,874 dollars per visit, which is over three and a half times the amount spent by the average American visitor.

In its 2012 annual report that was recently released, the Canadian Tourism Commission details and outlines its current plan to stop promoting Canadian tourism in the United States. The corporation presently responsible for national tourism marketing has stopped current consumer marketing and advertising between travel agents and tour operators located in the United States. They're also suspending all social media relations, as well as public relation efforts. This includes the interactive Twitter wall located in Chicago.

The commission also stated that they will be rather directing their efforts to overseas markets. These markets are proving to produce a higher return on Canada's current tourism investments. The commission has concluded that Canada's efforts are better served in higher yielding countries such as Brazil.

The tourist industry is a trillion dollar international market, and it can be extremely competitive. Several factors that have contributed to Canada's change in strategy include:

  • Diminished travel to Canada from the US has lowered Canada's tourism revenue from 35% in the year 2000, to only 19% in 2012.
  • Canada has dropped from a top 10 tourist destination, to number 18 in the year 2012.
  • Canada's tourism funding has been reduced by over 13 million dollars in 2012, and they now must accomplish more while spending less.
  • Canada's tourism deficit is out of balance, and the amount of money that Canadians spend abroad is more than double what the country brings in from its visitors.
  • Canada's travel deficit is predicted to reach a staggering 17.8 billion dollars in the year 2012.

By restructuring its resources, the Canadian tourism board believes that they'll effectively improve the country's competitiveness by tapping into the emerging overseas markets. They want to use their marketing capital to access travelers who have a high probability to spend more money while on holiday. The top five spenders in Canada in 2012 were Japan, Brazil, South Korea, and Australia.

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  1. The CTC wants, and Canada needs, to be back in the US market. Despite the misleading statistics shared in this article, the United States is the most important market for inbound visitation to Canada. Sure the average US visitor spends $518/visit compared to the Brazilian visitor at $1,800+. How many overnight visitors did Canada have from Brazil in 2012? 94,555. How many from the US? 11,853,981. Simple math tells a very different story.
    The CTC, and the Canadian tourism industry as a whole, is being neglected by the current government. While the United States has created and generously funded its national tourism office, plus many of Canada’s competing destinations, the CTC has been at the wrong end of huge cuts for several years. Tourism is a sustainable industry and one that provides a generous amount of revenue to all levels of Canadian governments. Why has the federal government turned its back on this industry?
    The article is correct in terms of realizing there are obstacles to success in this market. High airfare, a high dollar, apathy towards Canada and a growing list of exotic destinations for American’s to consider. All the more reason, to put the Canadian brand, front and center of those most likely to travel and looking for quality experiences found in Canada.
    Perhaps the next article and real story can explore why the federal government has abandoned this profitable sector. And, follow up with real answers in terms of what this government plans to do to compete and restore Canada as one of the top destinations of the world.

    RR (Canada)

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