By Clare Ogilvie
The recent federal budget is both good news and bad news for
the tourism sector.
It includes measures that should put more money in the pockets
of taxpayers — discretionary money they may choose to spend on travel
— but it also neglects to increase funding of the Canadian Tourism
Commission, according to the Council of Tourism Associations (COTA), the voice
of the B.C. tourism industry.
For some time Canadian tourism representatives have been
advocating for an increase of $100 million in federal funding for the CTC, the
national Crown Corporation responsible for tourism marketing.
“Out concern is that as the world becomes more expensive, and
it is more competitive out there, Canada is losing ground in terms of its
marketing efforts,” said Mary Mahon Jones, COTA’s CEO.
Currently the federal government funds the CTC to the tune of
$75.8 million. COTA believes that it should be funded for $175 million.
“The business case shows that an investment of an extra $100
million would result in a $620 million return (in the form of additional tax
revenues) for government, so there is a good business case for this,” said
“We feel that (level of funding) will be able to assist the CTC
in putting together a more far reaching campaign. One of the issues, for
example, is that our U.S. market is declining and we need to have some real
effort put into doing some more marketing in the U.S. to bring people to
There is a sense of urgency behind the desire to increase
funding as Canada deals with several big tourism issues including the 2010
Winter Olympic Games and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require
all travellers to and from the U.S. to possess a valid passport or alternative
“secure” documentation by January 2008.
“Even before it is implemented in 2008 we could be looking at a
12 per cent decline in U.S. visitation so that is a big concern for us,” said
Figures for January of 2006 show that U.S. visitors to Canada
were down 5 per cent to 1.6 million. Total automobile travel from the U.S.
recorded a 12.4 per cent decrease in February 2006, with overnight car travel
declining 11.6 per cent and same-day auto travel declining 12.7 per cent, its
lowest level on record.
Other travel modes also registered significant declines in
February, with total plane travel down 12.1 per cent and bus travel dropping
17.2 per cent. In addition, train, boat and other methods declined 21.5 per