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TW lobbying for more federal tourism funding

MP John Weston asked to support industry plea for more promotional spending



TRAVEL LOBBY MP John Weston is working with Tourism Whistler as the local organization pushes the federal government to commit more money to promoting travel to Canada.

The federal government just isn't pulling its weight when it comes to tourism promotion. That is the feeling of Tourism Whistler (TW) and the organization is lobbying the ruling Conservative Party of Canada to inject more money into the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) so the CTC can more effectively promote travel to Canada.

Barrett Fisher, the president and CEO of TW, has written a letter to MP John Weston encouraging him to support the effort to increase funding for the CTC.

TW has come up with a solution that it describes as a win-win for government and the tourism industry. Fisher suggested in her letter to Weston that one to two points of the tourism GST generated by international travellers be committed to the CTC every year.

She said that many individuals who travel to Canada don't bother going through the onerous process of claiming back the GST they paid while visiting Canada so a significant amount of money is left unclaimed and potentially available for reinvestment into tourism promotion.

According to Fisher, more than 600,000 people across Canada work in tourism jobs, producing more than $78.8 billion in economic activity.

"But despite this, Canada's global market share has been eroding over the past 10 years, as our country has slipped from seventh place to 18th place in international visitor arrivals," Fisher wrote in her letter to Weston.

"With less money to promote Canada in key growth and emerging markets, combined with increased world-wide competition, Canada will continue to see declines in visitation, unless we secure a significant and sustainable incremental injection of funding."

Funding to the CTC will be $57.8 million for 2013-14 and Fisher said that level of funding reflects a CTC funding decrease of more than 40 per cent over the past decade. She has pointed out that an investment in tourism promotion will lead to an increase in business revenues for tour operators, reservations companies, banking, telecommunications and tax revenues to government.

Speaking from Ottawa last week, Weston said Tourism Whistler has made some good points in its correspondence with him on this issue. He pointed out that the government is taking a fiscally responsible approach to funding tourism promotion.

"I would look at the overall big picture in a time of restraint," Weston said.

According to Fisher, a meeting with Weston is in the works.

"We're looking at setting up a meeting in the early New Year when the house isn't sitting," Fisher said.

TW is trying to get a few key federal ministers to sit in on the meeting.

"Our approach is to really do our research, focus on our ask... and we've found that when we do our homework and we are focused we've been able to garner the attention of government," said Fisher.

If the CTC received more funding it might well sink some of it into enticing more Chinese visitors. According to the CTC, visitor growth from China increased in 2011 by 25 per cent.

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