A push by the United States to boost tourism is sending a chill through Canada’s tourism industry.
A new partnership between the U.S. government and corporate community, Brand USA, is planning to spend $200 million — more than it has in years — to attract foreign tourists to the country, including $20 million to lure Canadians across the border, The Globe and Mail reports. At the same time, the Canadian Tourism Commission, the country’s main tourism promotion agency, is reducing its tourism budget by $14 million next year, bringing the commission’s funding to $70.6 million, almost half of its budget a decade ago. (We’ve converted Canadian dollars to U.S. currency.)
Lack of funds has already forced the commission to stop promoting existing and emerging tourism spots in Canada. Concurrently, the Canadian dollar (called the ‘Loonie’) has grown stronger in recent years as the country’s overall economic fortunes have improved, making vacationing there more expensive for outsiders. Canada has dropped to 15th in 2010 from 7th in 2002 in the rankings of the world’s top tourist destinations, The Globe and Mail reports.
To help shore up its marketing budget, Canada is considering slapping a $15 fee on international inbound flights to Canada to fund tourism promotional programs, the newspaper says. Another proposal would redirect taxes paid by foreigners to the Canadian tourism industry.
The proposals might be counterproductive, The Globe and Mail notes. Canada already has numerous fees on airline tickets; many Canadians avoid them by flying out of American airports. Adding more could fund promotion programs, but it also might scare away foreigners contemplating time off in Canada’s vast wilderness and cosmopolitan cities.
So, in seeking to make Canadian tourism competitive with its American counterpart, the country might achieve the exact opposite. Devaluing the Loonie would almost certainly make Canadian vacations cheaper and, therefore, more attractive to tourists seeking less expensive trips. But, of course, Canadians who aren’t involved in the tourism industry might object to that tactic.