OTTAWA– As the Tourism Industry Association of Canada wraps up its 2011 Tourism Congress in Ottawa, Liberal Critic for Small Business and Tourism Joyce Murray congratulated tourism operators across the country for their hard work to help Canada’s $74 billion tourism industry grow and prosper. Their efforts have helped Canada become the most powerful country brand in the world for a second consecutive year, as well as the top recommended destination for foreign travelers.
“Unfortunately, the Conservative government’s repeated policy blunders and funding cuts are compromising the success of Canada’s tourism industry,” said Ms. Murray.
Less than a decade ago, Canada was number seven in actual choice of destination for overnight visits. Under the Conservative’s watch, Canada’s ranking has declined and is now a woeful 15th.
“That gap is a direct result of the Conservative government’s failure to tackle policy barriers for foreign travelers,” said Ms. Murray. “Just look at Mexico – once our fastest growing market, overnight visits dropped by a third last year when the government introduced burdensome visa requirements. The taxes, fees and surcharges levied by the federal government at airports are some of the highest in the world, which is a major deterrent to tourists. Under their watch, the Canadian Tourism Commission’s core budget has declined every year and Canada’s tourism trade deficit has grown to a whopping $14 billion!”
Murray also noted that the government’s Federal Tourism Strategy offers no real measures to tackle these challenges for an industry that employs one in ten Canadians.
“Representatives of the tourism industry have told me that they’re happy to see this first step, but they’re disappointed that the government failed to include measureable objectives or concrete actions,” said Ms. Murray.