Canada's Federal Tourism Strategy: Welcoming the World

3. A New Approach

Photo of a skier at Rossland, British Columbia. Credit: RED Mountain/François Marseille

Our objective

Implement a whole-of-government approach to enhance the federal government's role as an effective partner with industry and other levels of government in support of an internationally competitive tourism sector.

Our guiding principles

Under a new whole-of-government approach, federal departments and agencies will be guided by four principles for sustainable tourism:

  • foster an open and cooperative partnership with the tourism industry;
  • apply a tourism lens to policy and program development;
  • enhance program coherence and accountability among federal departments; and
  • focus future tourism investments on Federal Tourism Strategy priority areas.

Application of these principles to day-to-day decision making and operations will make a difference in outcomes for the tourism industry. To help turn these principles into actions, we will do the following.

3-2 Photo of the Montréal High Lights festival in Montréal, Quebec. Credit: Jean-F. Leblanc/Montreal High Lights festival

Develop a forward agenda for tourism

A key element of our new approach is ongoing communication within government on federal plans and priorities affecting tourism now and in the years to come. Industry Canada will chair a group of senior federal executives to oversee and guide implementation of the Federal Tourism Strategy. The group will develop and maintain an integrated and forward-looking federal tourism agenda that is responsive to market conditions and demands. The agenda will include legislative, regulatory, policy, program and operational initiatives from individual departments and agencies.

Photo of a concert in Edmonton, Alberta. Credit: Edmonton Tourism

Formalize tourism industry engagement

1-Photo of tourists in Grafton, Ontario. Credit: Ontario Tourism 2-Photo of tourists at Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island. Credit: Tourism PEI/John Sylvester

Engaging the industry will enable it to play a more strategic role with government. Federal departments and agencies will regularly invite members of the industry representing a broad range of perspectives from across the entire sector, including industry leaders, association heads, and tourism business owners and operators, to participate in meetings with senior federal executives. Frequent industry engagement will ensure timely and accurate information exchange, encourage the industry to identify priority issues as they arise and share industry-led initiatives, and foster coordinated and collaborative action. This exchange will foster more cohesive industry input to public policy consultations.

Create a tourism business website

A new tourism website will provide the industry with a central portal to get information on relevant federal programs, services and announcements.

Tourism enterprises typically have few employees, and operators lack the time and means to develop individual tools to improve their products. To help tourism businesses develop innovative products and services, we have already made some 100 resources available. These include economic development advice, business development tools, occupational standards, market research and analysis, and a broad range of training materials.

However, this information is spread across numerous government websites. We will build on the single-window approach used by the Canada Business website to give tourism operators quick access to these resources. This approach will facilitate access to federal tourism-related information and tools and will give provinces and territories the option to add their own tourism-related information.

1-Photo of tourists crossing the suspended bridge at Eagle Canyon, near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership 2-Photo of snowmobilers along snowy path nearing a house in Saskatchewan. Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Douglas E. Walker

Coordinate tourism research

To make more effective use of federal research efforts, Industry Canada and the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) will convene an annual forum for federal departments and agencies to exchange results of and plans for tourism-related research and analysis, beginning in 2012. We will use the information gathered at this event to identify opportunities for greater collaboration among researchers to ensure that more cohesive analysis informs policy, program and industrial development.

Produce a tourism annual report

To keep the tourism industry and Canadians informed about progress on the Federal Tourism Strategy, the Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) will, starting in 2013, report annually on the concrete measures taken by the federal government. The report will complement existing reporting of federal tourism expenditures. It will also provide an overview of the tourism industry and of the way departments and agencies contribute to the broader, government-wide tourism priorities outlined in the Federal Tourism Strategy.

Supporting the four priorities

In the face of global competition and greater consumer choice, Canada needs to do more to develop and promote its tourism products and to capitalize on high-profile events such as the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Building on ongoing programs and new mechanisms, we will take a number of initial steps aligned with each of the four priorities.

1. Increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination

Leading tourism missions

Canada is seen as a desirable travel destination in many emerging markets, including India, China and Brazil. The growing number of middle-class travellers view Canada as safe, accessible, well governed and capable of providing desirable travel experiences and luxuries.

1-Photo of celebrities at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario. Credit: WireImage/Getty/Jason Merritt 2-Photo of tourists outside the Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Credit: Asymetric/Finn O'Hara

China is a fast-growing tourism market with great potential. Its outbound travel market will grow to 100 million trips by 2020, if not sooner, up from 45.8 million in 2008. On June 24, 2010, we officially signed a memorandum of understanding with China to implement Canada's Approved Destination Status. This is an important milestone that enables Canada to market directly to Chinese consumers and to host Chinese tour groups. This will increase the growth in revenues from Chinese tourists.

In October 2010, the Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) led a delegation of provincial and industry leaders to promote Canadian tourism in China. The mission, the first of its kind, was planned to complement the CTC's major business-to-business sales event in Asia (Showcase Canada-Asia 2010) and brought together a mix of provincial tourism ministers, representatives from provincial, regional and municipal destination marketing organizations, and private sector tourism operators and suppliers.

Future tourism-focused ministerial missions will help maximize product awareness while providing opportunities for increased business and economic benefits. These missions will better enable us to open doors for Canadian businesses, strengthen relationships and enhance links with our international counterparts, and better complement Canada's international trade priorities.

Realigning the CTC's business model
1-Photo of the skyline in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Credit: iStockphoto 2-Photo of a camper driving along a road with water and mountains in the background in Yukon. Credit: Paddy Pallin

The CTC is shifting substantial funds to invest in more marketing programs within high-yield, long-haul international source markets. In 2011, the CTC ceded consumer advertising and trade development activities in the U.S. to Canadian destinations, such as provincial and regional marketing organizations, many of which are already invested in the U.S.

The CTC will keep some investments in the U.S. market through a more selective channel strategy, which includes the Meetings, Conventions and Incentive Travel program, and media and public relations activities.

The CTC also reorganized to follow a regional hub model by consolidating international offices, a best practice among national tourism marketing organizations. These changes will allow for significant administrative savings. Altogether, a realignment of the CTC's business model will free up significant resources by 2012 to market Canada overseas. This kind of additional investment will help the Canada tourism brand gain strength and inspire more travellers to visit Canada.

Modernizing the CTC board

To make the CTC more effective in supporting the sector, a review of its governance was conducted in 2008. The review recommended that the CTC's board of directors be reduced and restructured so that it is based on skills and expertise rather than regional and sectoral representation. The CTC will have 14 fewer board positions as part of our plan to improve efficiency and governance across federal departments and agencies. These changes, which are planned to come into effect in 2011, will help the CTC become more strategic and relevant to industry and government by creating a truly modern corporate board structure able to deliver on the CTC's mission.

1-Photo of Native Canadians at Hay River, Northwest Territories. Credit: Northwest Territories Tourism/Terry Parker 2-Photo of tourists spreading maple syrup on snow in a sugar cabin in Rigaud, Quebec. Credit: Sucrerie de la Montagne
Establishing the Signature Experiences Collection

We are, through the CTC, establishing the Signature Experiences Collection, an inventory of export-ready experiences that exemplify Canada's tourism brand. The program will give operators a chance to profile their uniquely Canadian tourism experiences, which align with our tourism brand, in CTC marketing to connect with more international travellers.

This work builds on two other sector-focused efforts by the CTC: Significant 28 Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Experiences and Canadian Spa Experiences. In both cases, the CTC has been working with industry and other stakeholders to identify experiences that support Canada's tourism brand. The CTC will then profile these experiences in its channels to add depth and breadth to Canada's tourism brand.

Partnering to promote Canada:
  • The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the CTC will partner to promote Atlantic Canada as a leisure destination in priority international markets.
  • ACOA and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions will investigate collaborative opportunities with private partners to establish Eastern and Atlantic Canada as a premier cruise ship destination in targeted U.S. and European markets.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the CTC will further capitalize on their shared objectives of branding Canada as a supplier of safe and high-quality food and as a premier travel destination for culinary excellence.
  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) will work with the CTC to provide more Aboriginal cultural tourism experiences to market. They plan to expand the number of Aboriginal products under the CTC's marketing program to include those offered by both Aboriginal-owned businesses and Aboriginal-partnered organizations by by March 31, 2014.

2. Facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders

Consultations on air services priorities

We recognize the positive economic impact of new and expanded international air services on the tourism industry. This is one reason we adopted the Blue Sky international air policy in November 2006. It aims to encourage sustainable new and expanded international air services.

Photo of people dining in Québec, Quebec. Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission

Looking forward, we will continue to implement the Blue Sky policy. In doing so, Transport Canada will regularly consult the tourism industry for the development of Canada's proposed calendar of air services negotiations. In this context, the tourism industry will be asked to provide information, in consultation with Industry Canada, on its market priorities, which Transport Canada will take into account in its annual planning cycle. Information sharing with the tourism sector on the implementation of the Blue Sky policy will also be strengthened so that decision makers have ongoing awareness of opportunities under bilateral air agreements and Canada's charter regime.

Photo of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. Credit: Marie-Louise Deruaz, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
Improved border experiences
Photo of a street in Montréal, Quebec. Credit: Caroline West

To ensure a positive experience for our international guests, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and its employees will provide an integrated border services that are courteous, fair and professional. To that end, the CBSA has developed a Service Commitment, has enhanced its focus on service standards and has improved the mechanisms to address complaints.

The CBSA and the CTC will explore opportunities to build on the successful 2010 Winter Games Welcome to Canada program. Welcome to Canada signage greets international visitors at key border entry points with images and messages showcasing Canada and its exciting tourism experiences.

Enhanced visa services

To make it easier to come to Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will expand its network of visa application centres. CIC will also consult key federal partners to guide visa policy decisions and their implementation. This will supplement the regular dialogue across the federal government and with industry provided for under the Federal Tourism Strategy.

CIC will also work with the CTC and Industry Canada to promote Canadian tourism and tourism products at visa application centres. In preparation for the introduction in 2013–14 of biometric enrolment for some applicants requiring travel visas, CIC will develop a communications strategy to promote the use of multi-entry visas.

Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program

To support our tourism sector and further secure Canada's place as a destination of choice for group travel, the Department of Finance Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency will meet with representatives of the tourism industry to examine the operational design and administration of the Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program and to explore the feasibility of changes that would improve the program's effectiveness while maintaining the current scope of the program and a high standard of accountability.

Rental cars

To help facilitate access to Canadian tourism destinations, the government will review existing restrictions that make it difficult for Canadian residents to drive U.S.-based rental cars into Canada and consider how these restrictions can be eased.

3-12 Photo of a hotel in Banff, Alberta. Credit: Louise McEvoy

3. Encouraging product development and investments in Canadian tourism assets and products

Analysis of the potential role of signature attractions
1-Photo of Haida dancers at Kaay Llnagaay, British Columbia. Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission 2-Photo of girl dressed as Anne of Green Gables leaning on a fence with the Green Gables house in the background in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Credit: Tourism, PEI/John Sylvester

As tourism enterprises and attractions invest to better align their products with Canada's tourism brand, they will need to exploit the opportunities presented at and among destinations. This requires engagement, collaboration and an enhanced understanding of how combining and linking experiences affects visitor numbers and economic growth.

To begin this process, we will commission a third-party analysis of the potential role of signature attractions, including hub or gateway cities, in stimulating economic growth in the tourism sector. In addition to giving private and public sector tourism partners a chance to inform the analysis, the federal government will convene a stakeholder-partner forum in 2012 to examine the results of the study and share best practices. Based on the results, we will then consider more focused and structured activities to help strategically important destinations and attractions realize their full potential.

The following are other activities we are undertaking to support product development and investment.

Aboriginal and parks activities
  • By March 31, 2013, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) will create a suite of online tourism development tools to help community-based organizations pursue opportunities, attract investment, assess market readiness and overcome capacity obstacles.
  • AANDC will analyze cruise industry opportunities for Aboriginal tourism by March 31, 2014.
  • By March 31, 2012, Parks Canada and AANDC will conduct a pilot project to establish at least five Aboriginal cultural tourism businesses in or near Canada's national parks and historic sites.
  • Parks Canada will propose amendments to the current communications policy to permit third-party advertising in park publications and to better support tourism businesses in park communities.
1-Photo of silo along railroad tracks in Carey, Manitoba. Credit: IStockphoto 2-Photo of tourists purchasing apples in Kingston, Ontario. Credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership
Agriculture and rural linkages
  • By the end of 2011, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) will review its programs and services to identify and improve those related to agri-tourism.
  • Until 2013, the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat of AAFC will help communities identify and plan for tourism opportunities through cooperative development and amenities-based rural programming.
Cultural programming
  • Canadian Heritage will work with federal partners to maximize the reach and impact of its activities and projects that draw tourists, such as major commemorations, celebrations and sporting events.
  • Canadian Heritage will identify programs whose recipients, such as art galleries and theatre groups, are most likely to be linked to the tourism industry. These programs will include a Federal Tourism Information Kit with their program documentation, outlining resources and guidance available to the Canadian tourism industry.
Regional development
  • The Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) will deliver the ACOA VISIT Program or a similar one in Northern Ontario to provide tourism training to front-line economic development personnel.
  • Industry Canada will coordinate federal tourism activities related to official language minority communities by leveraging the existing interdepartmental network for these communities.

4. Fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality service and hospitality

National recognition initiative
Photo of tourists kayaking at Cape Broyle, Newfoundland and Labrador. Credit: Peter Helm

The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) plays an important role in fostering industry commitment and action to address skills development and labour market issues. The Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) will showcase the attractiveness of tourism careers and highlight organizations with exemplary human resources practices.

The Minister of State will also highlight the importance of meeting national standards for knowledge, skills and attitude within the tourism industry, using the CTHRC's emerit certification program. Emerit includes more than two dozen occupations, and we will encourage federal organizations to implement emerit for these jobs, when feasible. We will also recognize individuals and organizations—including tourism operators, educators and human resources groups—that have adopted certification programs or trained a skilled workforce effectively.

Parks and employee certification

Parks Canada will partner with the CTHRC to develop certification programs for park and site interpreters. It will also collaborate with federal heritage organizations to adopt certification programs that emphasize a consistent approach to service standards and ensure a quality visitor experience.

Parks Canada will finish certifying all park interpreters by 2012 and will expand this work to other tourism-related job categories.

Photo of Park Corner, Prince Edward Island. Credit: Tourism PEI/John Sylvester

Making it happen

In June 2009, the Prime Minister met with industry leaders to announce that we were developing a Federal Tourism Strategy to bring greater coherence to the policies and programs that support tourism in four priority areas: (1) increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination, (2) facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders, (3) encouraging product development and investments in Canadian tourism assets and products and (4) fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality service and hospitality.

We listened to and learned from those who make their living in the tourism business and from our colleagues at all levels of government. We also observed how other national governments are responding. As a result, the Federal Tourism Strategy not only outlines a number of new tourism-specific measures but also brings into effect a set of government principles to guide and inform all departments and agencies as they develop and administer policies and programs. It builds on the framework for federal-provincial-territorial collaboration and is an important step toward achieving the national revenue target for the tourism sector of $100 billion by 2015.

The Strategy will, over time, lead to more transparency, collaboration and consistency in federal activities that relate to tourism. This is not a quick fix; it is about creating a culture of partnership across the federal government and with private and public sector organizations in support of the tourism sector. The Strategy is a living document, providing a framework for the federal government to continue to help make Canada a sustainable and top-of-mind tourist destination, renowned worldwide for its exceptional and unique year-round travel experiences.

While we can improve the way we do business, the growth of our visitor economy depends first and foremost on private sector leadership. Industry must make the necessary investments and innovations to ensure Canada's tourism products keep pace. A diverse collection of voices and opinions must come together around shared interests to inform Canadians of just how important tourism is to our country and our economic livelihood. Effective partnerships across all levels of government will foster ongoing development in the people, products and destinations that will continue to draw visitors.

The competition to attract visitors is fierce, and the costs of not changing how we approach tourism are too high. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games proved that we could bring together the best ideas from the public and private sectors to show the world that Canada is one of the best places in the world to visit.

Canadians followed the Olympic torch as it travelled from one end of the country to the other, past picturesque fishing communities, through world-class cities, across vast tracts of stunning scenery, over the breathtaking Rockies and into Vancouver, where Canada welcomed the world. It is time to pick up that torch and carry the same spirit of collaboration as we move forward and make the most of all the opportunities that lie ahead for Canada's tourism industry.

Photo of scene at Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador. Credit: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism