Warm, sunny weather has welcomed a record number of tourism product buyers and buyer companies to this year’s Rendez-vous Canada 2014 in Vancouver, setting the stage for some 24,000 meetings between buyers and sellers at the travel trade mart.
The buyer count of 477 from 28 countries is the highest ever for Rendez-vous, which is the principal trade platform for the launch and sale of Canadian tourism products and programs to an international audience.
Those buyers are meeting with 526 Canadian seller organizations, rendering “a great buyer-seller ratio,” said Greg Klassen, interim president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). He led a lively Inside Track opening session, taking the stage with David Goldstein, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), to provide an overview of the Canadian tourism landscape.
Looming large in that buyer total is the American contingent, which leads all others with a tally of 70 buyers. This represents a 16% increase over the 2013 count. And this has helped bolster calls for more investment by the CTC in tourism marketing in the U.S.
“There is a resurgent interest in travel to Canada, reflecting a pent-up demand by US consumers,” said TIAC’s Goldstein. “There is a strong support for our Connecting America policy by the Canadian tourism industry, and it is loud and strong.”
The CTC responded that it has heard the call and is considering how best to respond. It has left tourism marketing efforts in the US to the Canadian provinces for the past two year, but is now reviewing the potential of partnership investments with those provinces.
“If we are going to invest, we have to be very smart and innovative about it,” said Klassen, reflecting on a US tourism marketing budget of $200 million vs. the CTC budget of $58 million. “We have to use brains, not brawn.”
Photo: First Nations beauty and symbolism was on show at the opening night welcome reception for Rendez-vous 2014 in Vancouver at the Vancouver Convention Centre, with the north shore mountains as a backdrop. It was sponsored by Air Canada and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.