Canada’s Tourism Vision: Focused on Growth
Beautiful landscapes. A diverse, welcoming culture. A rich, storied history. Canada’s tourism industry truly is world-class. And every day, tour operators, retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs—many small business owners—welcome thousands of tourists from around the world. It is these hardworking Canadians that give us a welcoming, inclusive and warm reputation for which we are famous.
Tourism is a vital part of the Canadian economy.
The Government of Canada, led by the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, has a clear plan to work with all partners to grow international tourism to Canada.
The New Tourism Vision is a whole-of-government approach to seizing the global opportunity that tourism offers.
In every region of the country, tourism creates jobs and opportunities, for Canada’s middle class:
- It is our largest service export and represents more than 2 per cent of our GDP.
- One in 11 Canadian jobs—more than 1.7 million—depends on the tourist economy.
- Tourism is our number one employer of youth, and is an important provider of employment for new Canadians.
- In 2016, international visitors accounted for $20 billion in tourism revenues. Domestic tourism raised just under $72 billion.
Tourism builds people-to-people connections, supports cultural exchange, expands trade opportunities and foreign direct investment, while helping Canadians and people from around the world better appreciate and understand each other.
Through the New Tourism Vision, the Government is taking action to improve Canadian tourism marketing, access, and product—all with the clear goal of increasing the total number of visitors to Canada.
The Global Opportunity
Worldwide, tourism is booming. In 2016, more than 1.2 billion tourists took a trip internationally—an increase of almost 4 per cent from 2015. Growth in tourism outpaced growth in merchandise trade.
The tourism industry is valued at over US$1.5 trillion (approximately CDN$2 trillion).
Canada stands to benefit from this encouraging global trend. We have seen tremendous growth in international tourist arrivals in recent years.
In 2015, the number of international visitors to Canada grew by 7.5 per cent to reach 17.8 million. In 2016, we welcomed almost 20 million tourists, a further increase of 11 per cent.
The world has taken notice of Canada. The New York Times, Lonely Planet and Condé Nast have all recognized Canada as the top international destination for 2017. With the 150th anniversary of Confederation underway, 2017 is going to be bigger and better.
Next year, we will celebrate the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism. This is an opportunity to welcome more visitors from the world’s fasting growing source country for international tourists.
Where we’re heading:
Canada’s New Tourism Vision sets out concrete targets for growth:
- Canada will compete to be one of the Top Ten most visited countries in the world by 2025.
- The number of international overnight visits to Canada will increase by 30 per cent by 2021.
- The number of tourists from China will double, by 2021.
How we’re going to get there: the MAP to Growth
Canada’s New Tourism Vision is focused on taking action under three pillars: Marketing, Access and Product.
This is our MAP to growth.
- Marketing is the key to attracting tourists to Canada. To build on Canada’s strong international brand and get the word out to new markets, the Government’s Vision will make use of both traditional and innovative new media.
- Making Canada easier to Access by international travelers. Cost, travel time (including flight connections), and ease of access to a destination all have an effect on trip planning.
- Building on our incredible tourism Product offerings. In a competitive global market, we must continue to innovate. Tourists seek authentic experiences, and to keep them coming back for more, this Vision will help to support the renewal of products and services on offer.
The Government is also committed to working closely with our provincial and territorial colleagues. The Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers recently announced the Nunavut Declaration, which commits to collaboration in order to grow and increase the competitiveness of Canada’s tourism sector. We will also work in close collaboration with stakeholders in the tourism industry, to ensure that their views are heard and that they are updated on the progress of our vision.
Pillar 1: Marketing
Destination Canada, our country’s national tourism marketing agency, has been successful in developing campaigns targeted to individual markets and traveler interests. They work closely with Canada’s tourism industry and with Provincial and Territorial destination marketing organizations to present a Canada-wide message.
Action Item 1: Stabilized funding for Destination Canada
As part of Budget 2017, the government will invest $95.5 million in Destination Canada on an annual basis. Previously, targeted short-term funding had been provided for specific marketing campaigns. This long-term stabilized funding will allow Destination Canada to continue sustained marketing campaigns to attract more visitors, while also being able to plan ahead.
Action Item 2: The Connecting America Campaign
The U.S. leisure market accounts for 70 per cent of overnight visitors to Canada, and is Canada’s single largest source of international tourists.
Canada’s proximity, natural wonders, vibrant cities, welcoming culture and common language makes our country a natural choice for American tourists. In 2015, Destination Canada undertook a $30 million marketing campaign in the U.S., which will continue until 2018.
Budget 2017 further invested in marketing in the U.S., so that Destination Canada can build on the success of the Connecting America campaign, and continue to market to U.S. customers.
Action Item 3: The Millennial Travel Program
Millennials are an exciting and growing group of tourists. The number of international youth trips is expected to double by 2020, to 300 million annually.
Last April, Minister Chagger and Minister of Heritage, Melanie Joly, announced the launch of the Millennial Travel Program which offers unique opportunities to millennials to gain multi-year sales, marketing and communications experience in the tourism sector. Inspired by the 150th anniversary of Confederation, this program is helping give Canadian and international millennial travelers a chance to explore our country and gain valuable experience.
Action Item 4: Harnessing the Digital Economy and Innovative Technologies
Destination Canada is working to better use data to improve how it markets to international travelers, specifically audience segmentation and targeting. Working collaboratively with provincial and territorial partners, Destination Canada will use new technologies to develop a common framework, improved methodology and universal performance metrics to measure success.
Pillar 2: Access
Action Item 5: Lifting the Visa Requirement for Mexican Nationals
Mexico is one of the highest growth source markets for Canadian tourism. While respecting the integrity of Canada’s immigration system, our government lifted the visa requirement for Mexican nationals. This decision will encourage continued growth of air travel between the two countries—benefitting the Canadian tourism and air travel sectors.
Action Item 6: Expanding the Visa Application Centre Network
Canadian Visa Application Centres around the world are often the first stop for visitors looking to apply for study permits, work permits, visitor visas, and travel documents for permanent residents.
While in China, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Li Keqiang jointly announced that China will authorize Canada to open seven new Visa Application Centres across China—more than double the current number. These new VACs will help to increase the numbers of visitors from China during the 2018 Canada–China Year of Tourism.
Action item 7: Expansion of the Electronic Travel Authorization Program
The expansion of the electronic travel authorization (eTA) to select visa-required countries will help promote trade and travel, while continuing to protect the safety of Canadians. Eligible travelers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania are now eligible to apply for an eTA.
Action item 8: Liberalizing Canada’s Bilateral Air Transport Agreements
Air transport agreements play a critical role in facilitating air passenger arrivals to Canada by allowing more direct flights between countries and better connections. Expanding air transport agreements will support growing volumes of international air passengers to Canada, and help open Canada to the world.
Action item 9: Exploring options to clarify the permitting requirements for the Northern Cruise Line Industry
Cruises are a popular attraction for many tourists, especially as a way to experience Canada’s North. The government will work with key regulatory departments, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to explore more efficient permitting of cruise ship operations in Canada’s Arctic waters.
Action item 10: Improving Accessible Transportation in Canada
After extensive consultations, the government is working towards new national accessibility legislation to ensure that travel under the federal transportation network is fully inclusive and barrier free for all persons with disabilities.
Pillar 3: Product
Action item 11: Growing Indigenous Tourism
In 2015, Indigenous tourism generated $2.7 billion in gross economic output, $1.4 billion in GDP (up from $596 million in 2002) and more than $142 million in taxes.
The number of Indigenous tourism businesses has also grown, from 892 businesses in 2002 to well over 1,500 in 2014.
This trend is encouraging, and reflects the many great products now being offered by Indigenous tourism operators. To build on this, the Federal Government, through Budget 2017, will provide $8.6 million to support the development of Canada’s unique and authentic Indigenous tourism industry.
Action item 12: A Strategic Plan for the Chinese Market
China is the world’s largest tourist source market. The number of international outbound tourists from China more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, from 47.7 million tourists to 128 million.
Given the size of this market, and the opportunity it represents, we are committed to doubling visits from China by 2021.
The Government is currently working with Destination Canada to augment its marketing programs. In addition, an expansion of the air transport agreement with China is under review. Moreover, seven new Visa Application Centres will be opened in China in order to make it easier to apply for a visa, and easier to come to Canada.
As announced by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in 2018 we will celebrate the Canada-China Year of Tourism. This celebration is a great opportunity to showcase Canada’s tourism industry.
Action item 13: Growing LGBTQ2 tourism
Canada has an incredible reputation as one of the most LGBTQ2-friendly countries in the world. Cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are internationally recognized LGBTQ2 destinations.
Through our Vision, we will enhance Canada’s reputation by working in partnership with industry to further promote LGBTQ2 tourism experiences.
The government has also supported Travel Gay Canada’s participation in major international tourism trade shows, to help showcase Canada to the world as a premier LGBTQ2 destination. This support will also help to provide training for tourism operators looking to expand into this market.
Action item 14: Distinguishing Canada as a premier tourism destination through Canada’s national parks
Canada is home to one of the most impressive networks of national heritage places in the world. Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are world class tourism destinations.
Visitors enjoy a variety of tourism activities that support local economies in hundreds of communities across the country. Parks Canada is continuously innovating to improve the quality of its places and experiences. Over 22 million people visit Parks Canada’s sites each year.
This year, as part of Canada 150 celebrations, the government is offering free admission to all national parks and historic sites and marine conservation areas. This gift to Canadians and citizens from around the world will introduce more people than ever before to these iconic places.
Action item 15: Growing culinary tourism
Culinary tourism is the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences. Meals have become as essential to a tourist’s experience as climate, geography and accommodations.
This exciting new trend includes tourism experiences like food trails, agro-tourism (i.e., visiting agricultural regions), vineyard or brewery tours, and taste-of-place experiences, where tourists visit a venue such as a restaurant, market or food festival.
Canada has a rich variety of culinary offerings, and there is tremendous potential to grow this niche in the tourism industry.
The government will work with the tourism and food industries to develop a national culinary tourism strategy.
Action item 16: Celebrating Canada’s Francophone heritage
Our official languages are at the heart of who we are as Canadians. To celebrate Canada 150, the Government of Canada is providing funding to support the development of a Canadian Francophone tourism and heritage route that will consist of more than 150 places and events selected for their heritage and cultural value. The corridor will unify Canadian Francophone communities and build solid bridges between the Francophone and Acadian communities across Canada. By highlighting Canada’s Francophone heritage, we hope to give visitors an enriching experience of an important aspect of our identity.
Action item 17: Promoting Canadian Arts and Culture internationally
Canada’s arts and culture scene plays an important role in branding us abroad. Last year, the government announced an investment of $35 million to support the promotion of Canadian artists and creative industries.
Through this Vision, the government will continue to support the promotion and export of Canadian arts and culture abroad. This will help artists and creative entrepreneurs expand their presence in these international markets.
Action item 18: Investing in our Regionally Diverse Tourism Offering
Canada’s Regional Economic Development Agencies support tourism by investing in local tourism businesses, products, experiences and organizations.
These agencies will continue to make the kinds of investments that help develop Canadian tourism in rural and remote areas and communities across the country. This includes: supporting the marketing of regional products; investing in tourism businesses; and helping export-ready tourism businesses.
Action item 19: Investing in tourism sector jobs and skills training
Supporting skills development is a core element of the government’s plan to support Canada’s middle class and those working hard to join it.
Specifically, Budget 2017 committed to supporting access to labour market, skills development and training opportunities for youth and under-represented groups. We are working with the provinces and territories, employers and educational institutions to ensure that Canadians looking to work in the tourism sector have the needed skills. We are also improving labour market information provided to employers and those seeking employment.
Action item 20: Strengthening Canada’s Tourism Data and Metrics
Reliable, clear and comprehensive data is necessary to making evidence-based decisions to support the Canadian tourism industry. To help achieve this, Budget 2017 is investing more than $13 million over the next five years, and almost $3 million per year thereafter, in Statistics Canada to better collect tourism data.
In particular, the International Travel Survey Program will be enhanced, which will produce better data at more detailed geographic levels and the Tourism Satellite Account will be expanded to include data at the provincial and territorial level.