Festivals and major events are an integral component of Canada’s tourism industry. Events are complex businesses that employ a diverse workforce, anchor innovative industries, generate wealth and foster a tremendous amount of civic pride, volunteerism, and community engagement.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2012 the tourism industry contributed $81.7 billion to Canada’s economy, accounting for approximately 1.7 million jobs and $21.4 billion in government revenue. Worth about $17.3 billion, tourism is now the largest service export in Canada and one of the largest employers of Canadian youth.
INVESTING IN INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
Many of Canada’s festivals and major events are recognized international brands that enhance our international reputation as a modern, sophisticated society. They contribute greatly to the quality of our cities, and create a sense of urgency for potential visitors to consider Canada as their destination of choice.
The Canada ‘brand’ ranked #1 in 2011 (FutureBrand index), but Canada ranked 18th in international tourism arrivals. Strong brand interest in Canada as a destination is not translating into actual visits for a number reasons, including a lack of specific product knowledge in the international marketplace. Just like any brand, Canada needs to be consistent across all touch points, from advertising and public relations to political representatives, cultural ambassadors and tourism products.
While many other countries and communities are making large investments in their national tourism marketing organizations, Canada’s core government funding has dropped year-over-year for most of the last decade, leaving Canada approximately 13th in the world for international tourism marketing funding.
CANADA SUFFERS FROM A TOURISM DEFICIT
More Canadian tourism dollars are being spent abroad than international visitors are spending here, resulting in a $17.8 billion tourism deficit in 2012. Border security regulations, airport taxes and fees, a strong Canadian dollar, and cuts to tourism marketing at a time when most countries are increasing their investments add up to a challenging environment in which to attract visitors.
SECURING HIGH-YIELD CULTURAL TOURISTS
Our international brand—often associated with Moose, Mounties and Mountains—places little urgency on travel to Canada and fails to resonate with those seeking arts and cultural experiences. Investing in our world-class festivals and events, in their product and in their results-driven marketing channels, will help move Canada from the might-see list to the must-see list of high-yield international travelers.
SHOWCASING OUR NATION TO THE WORLD — CANADA’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY
Canada will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2017. This milestone could translate into significant international tourism revenues. The federal government has the opportunity to leverage this anniversary to secure gains in tourism and brand recognition similar to those achieved by Canada’s Centennial and the 2010 Olympics. Today’s global economy creates a very competitive market for countries and Canada’s future prosperity relies heavily on attracting new residents, tourists and investments from around the world.
KEEPING TOURISM DOLLARS AT HOME
There is a significant opportunity to increase Canada’s $65.8 billion (Stats Canada 2012) domestic tourism receipts by incentivizing a larger percentage of Canadians to explore their own nation. This is especially true for Canada’s 150th anniversary year in 2017. In 2011 Canadians made over 317 million domestic trips, yet 92% of these trips were within the travelers’ own province (Stats Canada). Investing in leading festivals and events will ensure that our nation is poised to present this landmark celebration to Canadians across the country.
ENRICHING COMMUNITIES AND INCREASING GLOBAL COMPETIVENESS
Through public and private sector partnerships FAME members are able to bring world-class arts and cultural programming into open public spaces. In making these events accessible to the widest possible audience, we are providing entry to those who may not otherwise be able to afford such festivals and events, and inspiring the next generation of Canadian artists, performers, innovators and entrepreneurs.