Our Canadian geography and wildlife is the foundation that fuels tourism in Canada. It is world class when compared to most countries. We still have wildlife while others do not. We still have fresh water streams and lakes while others do not. We still have hectares after hectares of untouched wildenress while others do not. We have so much to offer while others do not.
So why according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) has Canada’s ranking dropped from 2nd in 1970 to 8th in 2000, and finally to 15th in 2010. We are going in the wrong direction. Our dropping market share is not new news… no… it has been written on the wall for many years now and yet, they all seem to be so surprised.
So why do our “so called” experts continue to promote Canada as a 2 month tourism destination year after year? Why is our winter tourism season always on the back burner? Why is Canada still perceived on a global stage as maple syrup, beaver tails and hockey.
Why do our tourism DMOs consistently mismanage marketing dollars and misdirect marketing to the wrong target markets? Why do our tourism DMOs seem to be so out of touch with reality? Why are the “experts” reactive and not proactive? Why is tourism in such a mess? Why, why, why!
I often ask myself this many times. It hurts me to sit and watch as the “bullies” of tourism damage our global tourism reputation.
It irks me to see that our “so called experts” in public tourism lose sight of what makes Canada special and what attracts people to our provinces and territories for travel. The grass root businesses in tourism deserve so much better.
Why is every solution to tourism success in direct relation to funding and that every problem in tourism is deemed to be because of lack of funding? Is no one accountable? There seems to be no lack of fingers willing and ready to point the blame.
What is public tourism afraid of? It is simple… the old guard in tourism is afraid of change, new thinking and relinquishing control. Currently, in the halls of tourism, there is a power struggle.
What are the core issues with tourism that should be addressed? Here are a few to ponder that we have observed over the past 40+ years of combined tourism experience …
- poor target marketing of tourism sectors. Tourism is more reactive than proactive.
- poor marketing and advertising practices resulting in mismanaged funds and poor ROI. No oversight?
- many tourism association’s management teams have a revolving door with a changing of the guard every year. How do you get anything done when new leadership starts over every year?
- most tourism decision makers have never been to local parks, river routes, lakes, trails or historic sites themselves so how do they deem themselves experts?
- tourism information centres are poorly trained, lack information, play favorites and talk negatively about neighbouring communities.
- the management team, in many cases, have no experience in tourism. Many are retired and come from different business backgrounds and now they are instantly experts in tourism?
- many tourism associations are micro managed by big corporations and grass roots tourism (the people who deal with the tourists) have no voice?
- tourism egos, biases and bullying run rampant in many tourism associations.
- most public tourism associations attack private tourism associations aggressively. One tourism association who threatened us let it slip out that, “public tourism hates competition. It will not tolerate competition.” In the eyes of the tourism bullies competition is an evil they will crush.
Tourism today is enjoying the same conditions the phone book companies enjoyed when they feast on a monopoly prior to deregulation.
We love tourism. We want tourism to grow and would love to see it improve and prosper but it seems pouring money into a broken model is always the answer to fixing the tourism industry.
I mean really, anyone can put a Band-Aid on a problem when given enough money. It does not take any special skills to spend, spend and spend… or does it? Am I missing something?