Canada’s tourism taxes, visa policies and cuts to key national marketing budgets are inhibiting its Travel and Tourism growth. That was the message from David Scowsill, president and CEO of The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), as the organization unveiled its Annual Economic Impact 2014 Canada Report last month.
WTTC’s report shows that Canada increased its contribution to the economy from Travel and Tourism by 2.6 per cent in 2013 and is predicted to grow it by a further 3.9 per cent in 2014.
However, Travel and Tourism only provides 4.5 per cent of GDP to the Canadian economy, compared with the global Travel and Tourism industry, which contributes 9.5 per cent to the world economy.
Scowsill believes that Canada has the potential to do a lot better economically from Travel and Tourism.
“Canada’s natural beauty and friendly people make it a wonderful place to visit, but the Canadian Government is not taking the economic potential of the sector seriously enough,” said Scowsill. “The budget for marketing Canada has been slashed repeatedly and, to no great surprise, the number of visitors to Canada has plummeted. The number of people around the world who are entering the middle classes and having money to travel is growing every day. As a result, new potential travellers, especially from Asia and Latin America, could be encouraged to visit the country. The Canadian Government can take steps to capture them, which will have a minimal impact on government revenues, yet have a dramatic impact on increasing visitor numbers, tourist receipts and jobs,” said Scowsill.
In February 2014, Canada upgraded its single-entry visa to multiple-entry for visitors from China so that they no longer need to make repeated applications and fee payments. The Canadian Government has also announced plans to introduce e-visas in April 2015.
“Travel & Tourism forecasts over the next 10 years look extremely favourable, with predicted growth rates of more than four per cent annually that continue to be higher than growth rates in other industries,” said Scowsill. “At the national level, governments can also do much to implement more open visa regimes and to employ intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. If the right steps are taken, Travel and Tourism can be a true force for good.”
The 2014 Economic Impact reports for 184 countries and 24 geographic and economic regions of the world are available at wttc.org/research.