Canada Tourism New Years Resolutions
10 New Year Resolutions for Canada Tourism
“If the tourism industry in Canada was an actual person what would their New Years Resolutions be for 2019?”
I was thinking recently of all the conversations and observations we have had with front-line tourism professionals and associations throughout 2018. And a crazy thought came into mind! What would the New Years Resolutions be for the Canada Tourism Industry if they were a person? When I say a person, I mean the whole Canadian Tourism Industry acting as one including associations, travelers and tourism businesses. What would their New Years Resolutions be? So reaching back into our archives we pulled out a list of resolutions for the Canadian Tourism industry to reflect on or more accurately, continue to ignore.
Top 10 Canada Tourism New Years Resolutions
So many clients in Canadian small communities have shared with us the old traveler adage of, “Wish I knew before as I would of stayed longer.” This is a 3-fold problem. (1) The traveler did not take the time to research the destination prior to arrival. (2) The community does not do a good enough job selling the community online so to sway travel plans. In 2019 communities need to think outside their city limits when marketing the big picture. (3) The community does not sell how close they are to signature travel destinations and other communities therefore missing the opportunity of selling themselves as a base camp for travel in the entire region.
Look for new blood
Tourism associations hire tourism consultants who will tow the company line. No association wants a consultant coming in and saying,”you screwed up big time” or, “what you have been doing is outdated and all wrong.” If you are a tourism consultant that does not spew the same story as the association good luck on getting hired again. Not a chance. If a tourism consultant wants to work again within a tourism monopoly they have to tow the company line. Be aware when listening to a tourism consultant in Canada of the underlying loyalties. And when you do come across a tourism consultant that speaks for the betterment of the attendees and not the monopoly…. stand up and give them a standing ovation because it is a big deal and it takes a lot of guts.
Know your community
We cannot count how many times when we arrive in a community where our first contact with businesses does not do the community any favors. In some cases our first contact talked negatively about their community. For example when we arrive and set up base camp in a community we will fill up for gas or grab a quick coffee or stock up on groceries. When at the till paying we sometimes ask, “What is there to do in the community?” And their response, “I don’t know.” and, worst yet, “Nothing.” Ouch, not something you want to tell a tourist. It knocks that community tourism down a few pegs.
Take off eh!
Get this nonsense. When Canadians can fly to places like Vegas, Europe, Iceland, California, Florida, etc for a lot less than it costs to fly in Canada from one province to another how can we expect to grow tourism domestically. International tourists must look at local airline fares and just shake their heads. The math does not add up for them either. The airlines in Canada are killing coast-to-coast-to-coast Canadian travel plans. How can we ask Canadians to spend 2 or 3 times the air fare to explore Canada when they can go somewhere else for less and it includes accommodations, entertainment and dining? And take it from us there are some really spectacular adventures here in Canada which every Canadian should have access to without breaking the bank.
Become a Storyteller
Experiences, experiences and more experiences. The experience of travel, the experience of your accommodation and the experience of the destination itself. Throw out the facts and figures and start story telling. Tell the story of how your adventure came to be, how it was the experience of a lifetime, how within minutes you can be exploring hundreds of years of history… these are the stories that pique the interest of prospective travelers.
Do your country a favor. Do your community and yourself a favor. Stop sending 15% of your bookings to companies who do not live here, care about Canada, and who do not reinvest back into Canada. In 2019 try to book directly with tourism businesses on their own personal websites or through travel websites that are not commission based like ehCanadaTravel.com. Heck… the price is often cheaper too. Lets put it into context for you. Imagine 15% of your paycheck being deducted from your take home pay every 2 weeks. Ouch right! That is how Canadian accommodations and attractions feel every time you book through an OTA (booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia.com). Stop it!
Take tourism seriously
Communities need to give tourism more credit and understand the domino-effect of a good tourism strategy. Bottom line is that tourism brings more people to your community. Good thing! More people means more spending in your stores, creating new markets, attracting new businesses. More people means more development. Development means new trails, facilities, attractions and shops. Tourism sells your community lifestyle. People will move to communities that they like and often it is a community they visited once before during a vacation. More people moving in means more housing, schools, and a better tax base to draw from for community improvements. Need we say more… because there is more.
Invest in hearing aids
According to our DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) and RTOs (Regional Tourism Organizations) they have all the answers. News flash! Not even close! Listening to community concerns is so bad in some small to mid-sized-communities that they should be giving out hearing aids to the tourism associations. Talking loud (to the point of bullying) is their strong point and listening for new ideas is not. One size does not fit all. Big city tourism marketing models do not work for small communities. Apples and oranges. Lack of educating small communities to self market leaves them in the dark and too reliant on RTOs. The DMOs and RTOs like it that way.
All our eggs in one basket
Why does the tourism industry put all their eggs in one basket every decade? Not long ago we redirected funds away from marketing to the USA and put the money towards marketing to China. We were a #7 in the world travel destination at the time. That brain-dead move caused the bottom to fall out on USA visitations. So what did we do? We scrambled, back-peddled and reinvested back into the USA again.
“This fact is reflected in the 2015 international tourist arrival statistics, which indicate that over 22 million US citizens traveled to Canada on vacation that year. This number represents roughly 82% of total foreign resident arrivals and nearly $6 billion spent.” (Source: World Atlas)
Did we learn anything? Not a chance. It is 2019 and what do we do? We use another government funding windfall and direct our tourism efforts into marketing to China again. Two times lucky I guess. They (Canadian Government Tourism) decided as a nation to market to a country which has a poor human rights record. A country which operates under a Communist type government. A country which cares about no one but themselves. It is a relationship which was doomed to fail from the beginning. How is that China program working for you now Canadian Government? Should be an interesting tourism year ahead.
Start telling it like it is
You have all seen how corporations can “put a spin on statistics”. Any statistic can be manipulated to tell a certain type of story favorable to a business or association. Corporations do it all the time. Low and behold so does Canadian government tourism associations. Just look at all the “kudos” they give themselves year after year. They are not shy about telling us about how wonderful they are. Tourism keeps telling us they are doing so well. Consider this. How well are they really doing with billions of funding from governments? Not too well according to information online not distributed by their “spin doctors”.
“… experts note that there has been a significant decrease in Canada’ share of the international tourist market over the last 15 years or so. In fact, Canada is one of the only countries in the world to report decreasing foreign resident arrivals between 2002 and 2013 (with over 20 million international visitors registered for 2002 compared with 16 million for 2012).” (source: World Atlas)
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