TORONTO — It was another successful turnout at this year’s Discover America Day, which recently took place in downtown Toronto. A total of 37 exhibitors took part – state tourist boards, major attractions, hotels and airlines – all of which were present to share the latest news and offerings in the U.S. market. But perhaps the most notable announcement of the day came from Brand USA, which revealed a major cooperative marketing agreement with Air Canada to promote travel to the U.S.
“We are delighted with the Air Canada partnership. Air Canada is a proven, high-quality, award-winning brand and strong player in the transborder market, offering the most capacity in the USA. Recent outbound activity from Canada to the U.S. has been very strong and the forecast looks optimistic,” said Christopher Thompson, president and CEO for Brand USA. “Our research indicates that the ‘intent to visit’ among Canadians who saw our initial ‘Land of Dreams’ campaign increased 22%. Providing a great foundation and partnering with Air Canada will increase the momentum to expand our footprint in the market.”
The long-term partnership will debut with a high profile multi-media campaign this fall in Toronto and Montreal, and will include out-of-home (OOH), print, digital and radio promotions with surprise incentives to visit the country. With the goal to reinforce the Canadian traveller’s interest in New York, Florida and other gateway destinations, the campaign creative features iconic symbols such as the Statue of Liberty, pink flamingos, the Vegas sign and sandy beaches.
“Air Canada is a natural partner for Brand USA. We continue to be the leader in the Canada-U.S. transborder market, offering convenient access to an extensive network of 49 U.S. destinations, along with the most daily nonstop flights of any airline,” added Selma Filali, Director of Marketing Communications at Air Canada. “The partnership is a powerful combination to stimulate travel to the U.S., featuring Air Canada’s strong leadership position combined with Brand USA’s proven marketing ability.”
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reports, a total of 22.7 million Canadians visited the U.S. in 2012, injecting US$22.5 billion into the economy. Discover America Committee Canada president Sana Keller also noted that in 2012 the forecast for Canadian travel to the U.S. was at 5%, but ended at 6.4%. This year’s forecast was set at 5% but is currently trending at 5.9% as of June.
“Overall visitation and spending is up, as well as the intent to visit,” she said. “We want everyone to know that the U.S. is open for business.”
Keynote speaker Lorrie King from Deloitte addressed four root causes of the increase in Canadian visitors. At the top of the list is the strength of the Canadian dollar followed by the Nexus Card, which encourages Canadians to travel more frequently south of the border. In 2011, there were 500,000+ Nexus Card holders. That number is expected to rise to 830,000 in 2015.
The third cause is rooted in the added value found south of the border. With increases in duty-free allowances and higher Canadian airfares causing passengers to fly out of cheaper gateways like Buffalo and Niagara, more and more Canadians are finding incentives to fly in and out of the U.S.
Finally, the influx of major U.S. retailers, like Target and Marshalls, in Canada has been met with great disappointment. According to King, Canadian shoppers have not responded in kind to the lack of U.S.-style deals and merchandise, so they continue to travel to the States where they can find what they want at the right price.
Discover America Day 2013 was sponsored by VIA Rail Canada, Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, MyPassionMedia, Air Canada and New York State Tourism. The next Discover America social event is scheduled for Dec. 3.
To view photos from Discover America Day, visit to the Photos page.