NIAGARA FALLS — When the Canadian Tourism Commission forewarned media that they had big news to share during the 2015 Rendez Vous Canada conference in Niagara Falls last week, they weren’t kidding.
In the company of the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State for Business and Tourism, Chris Alexander, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Charlotte Bell, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Scott Allison, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Jon Mamela, Marketing Manager and CTC President David Goldstein made the most ground-breaking announcement of the day, revealing not just a new name for their organization but also a bold new logo.
The Canadian Tourism Commission will now be known worldwide as Destination Canada, a name chosen, said Mr. Goldstein: “to crystallize what visitors find here – experiences that will last a lifetime.”
This strong new identity for Canada’s major tourism marketing entity comes at a pivotal moment. Statistics show that interest in travel to Canada has seen steady growth in the past year. Minister Bernier told the more than 450 buyers and media members gathered at the Scotiabank Conference Centre – the second largest group ever welcomed by Rendez Vous Canada – that although we face strong competition in the travel market, Canada is welcoming impressive numbers of visitors, not only from established tourism partners but also from emerging markets.
In 2014, Canada welcomed 30% more visitors from China, 19% more from India and 14% more from Mexico. In total, tourism contributed $88 billion to the national economy – a 5% increase over 2013 – and created more than 6,000 jobs.
Minister Chris Alexander noted that tourism often leads to immigration, to the relocation of companies to Canada, to international student enrollment in Canadian universities and to an overall growth in our economy.
He predicted that the 2014 numbers will only increase as a result of coming changes to Canada’s electronic travel authorization program. Once voluntary but now being made mandatory for visitors other than American citizens, electronic travel authorization features an online application system that will make it easier for Canada to process and welcome visitors while simultaneously identifying potential security risks. Though there is a charge of $7/visitor, the Canadian ETA is less than half the cost of the U.S. counterpart and will be valid for five years, nearly twice as long.
The U.S. remains Canada’s largest source of visitors, with 2014 statistics showing more than five million passenger cars crossing the border into Canada in Niagara alone.
Said Minister Bernier, “The American economy is recovering, more U.S. citizens are getting passports and planning outbound travel. We want them to know that Canada is open for business.”
To emphasize that point, Mr. Bernier pointed to a $30 million dollar fund recently committed to helping the CTC to tell our story across the United States. The timing is perfect for the newly minted Destination Canada to breathe fresh life into the promotion of Canada.