A newly released report, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says that Canada’s tourism taxes, visa policies and cuts to key national marketing budgets are inhibiting its travel and tourism growth.
David Scowsill, president and CEO of the WTTC unveiled the organization’s Annual Economic Impact 2014 Canada Report today, observing that: “Canada’s natural beauty and friendly people make it a wonderful place to visit. But the Canadian government is not taking the economic potential of the sector seriously enough. The budget for marketing Canada has been slashed repeatedly, and to no great surprise, the number of visitors to Canada has plummeted.”
He pointed out that: “The number of people around the world, who are entering the middle classes and having money to travel, is growing every day. As a result, new potential travellers, especially from Asia and Latin America, could be encouraged to visit the country.”
Before adding that: “The Canadian government can take steps to capture them, which will have a minimal impact on government revenues, yet have a dramatic impact on increasing visitor numbers, tourist receipts and jobs.”
The WTTC’s report reveals that Canada increased its contribution to the economy from travel and tourism by 2.6% in 2013 and is predicted to grow it by a further 3.9% this year. However, travel and tourism only provides 4.5% of GDP to the Canadian economy, compared with the global travel and tourism industry, which contributes 9.5% to the world economy.
And Scowsill urged the Canadian government to implement measures to benefit the sector in the long run, saying; “Canada needs to invest more money on promoting itself abroad to encourage people to choose Canada as a destination. WTTC would also strongly encourage the Canadian government to focus on policies, which will ease travel both to and from, and within, Canada. It could also look to provide incentives for private sector investors to develop new products and services for tourists.”
The WTTC indicated that it was encouraged by the fact that in February, Canada upgraded its single-entry visa to multiple-entry for Chinese visitors, so that they no longer need to make repeated applications and fee payments. The Canadian government has also announced plans to introduce e-visas in April 2015. And Scowsill said such measures should continue.
Scowsill also said that there are also steps which the Canadian government can take to boost the vital domestic tourism market which currently accounts for two-thirds of Canada’s travel and tourism economy.
“The high cost of travel to and within the country is holding Canada’s economy back. Canadian residents would benefit from improved connectivity and lower prices. Taxes currently make it considerably pricier to travel to and within Canada.”
And he noted that if Canada raises the priority of the sector, it will reap economic rewards for the country.
“If Canada looks at freezing or reducing its tourism taxes, continues with progressive visa policies and increases its key national marketing budgets, it will have a dramatic positive impact on job and wealth creation for the country.”
Go to http://www.wttc.org/research for more.