The tourism big picture for Destination Canada still has many dark clouds, but work by the organization is starting to render a brighter outlook for the coming years, reports Press Today’s Ted Davis.
With the many challenges of the past 21 months comes the opportunity to rebuild the Canadian tourism industry with new marketing concepts and directions, said Marsha Walden, president and CEO of Destination Canada. Strategies at Destination Canada have been shaped by the need to help generate this tourism renaissance, she said during the DMO’s annual public meeting.
But before looking forward, Walden looked back on some of the key metrics that have defined the recent tumultuous months for tourism in Canada.
One-half million tourism jobs were lost virtually overnight, and even though there has been some recovery, 350,000 jobs are still gone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“We anticipate the Canadian tourism economy to increase to $78 billion in 2022, up 51% over 2021, but still 26% below 2019,” said Walden.
International tourism revenues are expected to increase from $2.6B in 2021 to $9B in 2022, as parts of the world gradually return to Canada, starting with Europe and the U.S. This will still be 60% below 2019 numbers, said Destination Canada.
“The climb back up is steep and long,” said Walden. She noted that labour shortages will hamper the recovery, and that business travel “may never recover.”
Facing these challenges, Destination Canada has sought out new opportunities for fostering tourism commerce in the country.
Leading those efforts is a pivot back to the Canadian domestic market, with investments made to increase tourism by Canadians within national borders, said Walden.
This has included a big focus on re-establishing and strengthening strategic partnerships with tourism suppliers and sellers.
“We invested heavily in initiatives to bring together significant players, to extend more buying power and reach all of our partners in Canada … players like Google, Expedia, Air Canada, WestJet, US air carriers, Virtuoso and others,” she said.
Destination Canada has hosted hundreds of meetings with these partners to help keep the dream of travel to Canada alive, and to, for example, share best practices. Destination Canada also oversaw the training of 900 new Canada retail specialists.
With a reset on goals and strategies, Destination Canada is now envisaging “the next era of tourism,” said Walden – one which will be stronger, more profitable and will result “in net benefits for all Canadians.”