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Opportunities squandered

In a highly anticipated presentation before the Economic Club of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty (pictured) yesterday (Feb. 13) pointed to uncompetitive travel and tourism policies as one of Canada’s top 10 barriers to competitiveness for 2013. The announcement affirms that public policy challenges are not only inhibiting growth within the travel and tourism sector itself, but squandering one of the great Canadian economic opportunities, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “There is an unparalleled opportunity to drive export activity and create jobs by increasing international travel to Canada, but this won’t occur without public policy fixes,”said TIAC president David Goldstein. “Attracting lucrative international visitors requires competitive investment in international marketing and aviation policy freed from excessive taxes, fees and levies.”According to TIAC, with unprecedented growth in international tourism demand, Canada’s travel industry could make a more meaningful contribution to the Canadian economy if not for structural challenges particularly in the areas of tourism marketing and access to Canada. The Canadian Tourism Commission’s budget is being cut by nearly 20% at a time when all of Canada’s major competitors are bolstering their investments in tourism marketing. Canada’s economic growth is also being unnecessarily hindered by an inhibitive taxation structure. This “triple dip”includes more than $850 million in aviation taxes, fees and levies, $90 million in GST on those aviation taxes, and $460 million in GST on foreign visitor spending. Canada is the only G8 country with a value-added tax that does not offer a whole or partial rebate for individual foreign visitors. “Through a combination of high transportation costs and steadily reduced marketing efforts, Canada has slipped from seventh place among the world’s tourism destinations to 18th place in just a decade,”said Beatty. “A huge industry, critical in every region, is struggling with its competitiveness and needs public policies that are forward-looking and supportive.”

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