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Quick action needed in Canadian tourism


Canadian tourism ministers are committed to increasing Canada’s competitiveness in the global tourism industry, according to Rick Thorpe, provincial minister of competition, science and enterprise.

At a meeting earlier this month Thorpe said tourism ministers across the country agreed that quick action is needed for Canada to make the most of its tourism potential.

The ministers recommended that the federal government immediately review the air travellers security tax, in which a $12 fee is imposed on air travellers for a one way trip and $24 fee for a round trip. These fees were introduced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The ministers said this fee has affected travel to and from small, rural, northern and remote communities because the short haul travellers are paying a higher percentage of their tickets in these fees.

Concerns were also raised at the meeting about air service to rural communities. In less than one month Air Canada will be allowed to abandon service to any community in Canada, with only three months’ notice.

Thorpe said there has to be federal action.

"The federal government must recognize that short haul flights, which generally services rural and remote communities, do more than move travellers and tourists around the country; the service they provide is critical to the economic well-being of our communities," he said.

Cross-border security issues were also discussed at the meeting as well as the fact that equitable funding must be made available to all regions of Canada.

Federal Industry Minister Allan Rock also joined the tourism ministers in Victoria, assuring them that the federal government is a willing participant in the tourism sector.

The ministers agreed to a follow up meeting in January to make sure that progress is made on these issues.