We all agree that tourism is an important driver of prosperity that creates jobs in hundreds of communities across the country. In 2014, tourism revenues reached $88.5 billion, an increase of nearly 5 percent compared to 2013. Most importantly, the tourism industry accounts for nearly 628,000 jobs in Canada.
Last year, over 16 million visitors came to discover and experience our destinations, from coast to coast to coast. With a 9 percent increase in overnight trips from overseas markets, 2014 was a good year.
Surely it’s a great time for tourism in Canada and this is no coincidence.
With a sound economy and a sustainable financial model the Canada brand is strong. According to the Reputation Institute, Canada is one of the top countries in the world to visit, to live or to study in, but also the best country for attending conferences or organizing events.
Investments in marketing efforts are crucial because today more than ever, Canada is facing acute competition from numerous other destinations. Yet at the same time, we are welcoming more visitors from emerging markets as the purchasing power of millions of individuals continues to increase.
In order to maintain a strong reputation, Canada has to keep up with the global economy. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, tough choices have had to be made when it comes to achieving fiscal balance and preserving a sustainable business climate, but it has also led to tangible results.
Canada has attracted 29 percent more visitors from China in 2014 and 19 percent more from India. With visa facilitation processes announced by Minister Chris Alexander for low risk travellers, the Canadian tourism industry finds itself in a good place to leverage an increasing number of opportunities and position our country in these markets.
This momentum, along with new economic conditions prevailing in the United States and the Connecting America campaign announced by Prime Minister Harper, is materializing in hundreds of communities across Canada, where small businesses thrive and welcome hundreds of visitors from abroad every day.
Numbers speak for themselves. In the first four months of 2015, overnight trips to Canada by international visitors grew by 5.7% compared to the same period last year. Comparatively, the United Nations World Tourism Organization most recent forecasts have pointed to a 3 to 4 % growth in world tourist arrivals in 2015. Indeed, we are on the right track.
As we are embarking on a busy summer, I encourage you to visit your friends and family, explore the best of what our country has to offer and showcase your interest in our destination, Destination Canada.