TORONTO — To launch Tourism Week in Canada, TIAC is asking all Canadians to take the 2021 Tourism Pledge to travel in their home country this year.
During a media briefing on May 21, Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), who was joined by representatives from Destination Canada as well as provincial and territorial tourism industry associations, stressed the importance of the tourism industry, which prior to the pandemic generated $105 billion, accounted for just over 2% of the country’s GDP and employed close to two million workers.
“Tourism touches every single riding and community in Canada and is an economic generator for our country,” said Potter. “As you can see from the presence on the screen, we stand united as an industry, collectively representing over 225,000 businesses. My colleagues and I lift our voices in unison to say Canada cannot afford to lose the tourism industry.”
Noting that the pandemic has “hit us hard and hit us first,” Potter added that due to its rippling effect across the sector, tourism will also be the last to recover. Canada’s ongoing travel restrictions, considered among the most stringent in the world, include the continued closure of the Canada-U.S. border, a mandatory hotel quarantine and pre- and post-arrival PCR testing.
“While we at TIAC and the other organizations on this call continue to advocate for the reopening of Canada’s borders, we are asking Canadians to choose to travel in Canada first to support our industry and kickstart the recovery,” said Potter
The Tourism Pledge comes at the start of Canada’s Tourism Week, which takes place this week from May 23-30 coast to coast to coast. Throughout the week, TIAC and Destination Canada will be highlighting regions across the country and sharing stories about how tourism has made a difference in local communities. Potter added that the week is also a time for Canadians to “understand their vital connection” to the industry’s recovery.
“We know that 80% of Canadians plan to travel as restrictions are released and our focus this week is to make sure that we do that first in Canada,” she said. “Our operators are ready to welcome you, they’ve done the work to ensure all products and experiences meet the property health and hygiene regulations. Owners and employees have had to be nimble and adapt to new regulations and restrictions through three waves of crises, so this Tourism Week is also about recognizing the sector’s resilience and perseverance through this unprecedented time.”
Canadians are invited to take the Pledge, post it on social media and encourage their family, friends and followers to do the same.
“Let’s work together and let everyone know that tourism counts,” said Potter.
Just how much does tourism count?
According to Marsha Walden, President and CEO of Destination Canada, if Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing Canada’s visitor economy, and help sustain 150,000 jobs. To spearhead domestic marketing efforts, Destination Canada has launched a new postcard campaign, which was first unveiled last week at Rendez-vous Canada 2021. The initiative was inspired by Destination Canada’s research, which shows that 39% of Canadians expect their first trip will be to visit loved ones and friends. The series of postcards is inspired by destinations across Canada and can be sent in French and English. Canadians can access the postcards online here, then have them printed and mailed anywhere in Canada.
In addition, Walden unveiled Destination Canada’s new anthem video, which highlights the vast number of people who make up Canada’s tourism industry. Produced by Canadian director Mark Zibert, the video features real tourism workers, business owners and staff, among the one in 10 Canadians whose jobs are tied to the sector.
“The richness of our diversity and the heartbeat of our country can all be found in Canada’s tourism industry,” said Walden. “And those are the elements that are so fundamental to our quality of life as Canadians.”
Canada’s Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Mélanie Joly, also made an appearance at the briefing, sharing that the Government of Canada has invested a total $15 billion towards tourism, culture and arts since the start of the pandemic. An additional $1 billion was recently announced for tourism in the 2021 Federal budget.
“We have seen the strength and the resilience of the tourism sector shine through in what has been an incredibly challenging 14 months,” said Joly. “In recognition of Tourism Week, I encourage all Canadians to embrace our magnificent country and consider the endless potential of the new and familiar destinations waiting to be discovered.”