Competitors or strategic allies?

That’s the question that’s on everyone’s mind these days — at least if you’re in the tourism business in Canada. And it was also the question that was addressed at the Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit (CTMS) held in Toronto this week, as the Canadian Tourism Commission’s (CTC) CEO, Michele McKenzie sat down with Brand USA’s new president and CEO, Chris Thompson to talk about what kind of relationship the two destination marketing organization’s would have going forward. The CBC’s Amanda Lang moderated the session in which both McKenzie and Thompson demonstrated that they recognized that the two countries are each others largest markets and that while they are ultimately competitors, the opportunity for cooperation certainly exists. Both McKenzie and Thompson pointed out that the role of their organizations was to sell their respective destinations, but they also saw areas where cooperation made sense and had real potential. For McKenzie, the Brand USA funding model is clearly well worth watching as it may offer a solution to the CTC’s ongoing challenges in the area of ensuring that this country’s tourism marketing organization had a source of sustainable funding. And McKenzie indicated that a number of options are being looked at in this area, including a charge on airline tickets that would be used to fund Canada’s tourism marketing activities. While Thompson told the CTMS audience that he sees “lots of potential” in finding ways to work together, he also made it clear that the first thing he had to do was put a destination marketing organization together. Stay tuned, more on this story in an upcoming issue of Canadian Travel Press. Seen in the photo, from l to r, are the CTC’s Michele McKenzie, CBC’s Amanda Lang and Brand USA’s Chris Thompson.