After watching tourism funding drop over the last decade, officials with Tourism Whistler have teamed up with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada to propose a solution.
In a letter to members Tourism Whistler President and CEO Barrett Fisher asked members to be part of a letter writing campaign to local MP John Weston, the minister of finance and minister of state for small business and tourism.
“In order for Canada’s tourism industry to continue to thrive and flourish there are multiple influencing factors, but to ensure we have strong national funding is critical,” Fisher said. “We certainly have a grave concern that our national tourism marketing organization, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) has seen a reduction in their funding of over a ten year period of 41.5 per cent.”
Fisher noted government’s reduce spending for a variety of good reasons, but pointed out Canada’s competitors for international travellers are spending more while the CTC will have its budget reduced to $58 million by 2013-14. Ireland, she said for example, spends over $200 million, Mexico over $150 million and Australia is in the same range.
Canada was seventh in the world for international tourism arrivals in 2002 and has dropped to 18 in 2011.
“When you look at how other international countries are investing, we are not staying competitive,” Fisher said.
Tourism marketing is a tiered system in Canada with the CTC at the top followed by the provinces and then the local destination marketing organizations.
Fisher said without the baseline of the CTC growing awareness of Canada as a destination then the investment of the provinces and organizations like Tourism Whistler starts to be less effective.
“What we are certainly pushing for is that we need to have a long term sustainable funding model that is performance based,” she said.
The proposed solution from TIAC and supported by Tourism Whistler is to have two points of the GST generated by international travellers be committed to the CTC on an annual basis. The more visitors that come to Canada, the more GST is collected and that generates more revenue for the government and to fund the CTC.
“We want a solution that is a win-win for tourism and government,” she said.
As the seventh largest export industry, Fisher said tourism needs to remain competitive in an international marketplace.