Canada urgently requires a real strategy to reap the benefits of growth in the travel and tourism industry



    Jean-Marc Eustache, President and CEO of Transat A.T. Inc., calls for an
    immediate review of airport infrastructures financing while condemning
    incoherence and dithering

    MONTREAL, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Speaking today to the Cercle finance et
placement du Québec in Montreal, Jean-Marc Eustache, President and CEO of
Transat A.T. Inc., one of the world's leading integrated tour operators,
called upon the Canadian government to adopt a coherent global strategy to
ensure the future of the travel and tourism industry as an engine of economic
development in Canada.
    "The game is changing. Competition among destinations is intensifying,"
Mr. Eustache explained, "and if we do not act, we are placing a major
component of economy and our future in jeopardy."
    In sketching out a few constituent elements of such a strategy,
Mr. Eustache highlighted the importance of ensuring that our airport
infrastructures are accessible at competitive rates - they are currently among
the most expensive in the world. It costs three times as much to land at
Pearson in Toronto as at Charles-de-Gaulle in Paris; it also costs three times
as much to land in Montreal as in Rome.
    "On the one hand, the government supports development of the aerospace
industry, which is to be applauded; but on the other, it insists on taxing
passengers and weakening the cost structures of our airline companies, thus
hindering their growth, which to me seems incoherent," he noted. "We must also
reach a profitable open-skies agreement with Europe, create conditions to help
our air carriers gradually renew their fleets and make them more
environmentally friendly, invest new money in promoting our country as an
international tourism destination, and take steps to ensure that our product -
our tourism offering - continues to evolve apace with travellers' changing
expectations."
    Mr. Eustache emphasized his points by highlighting the contrast between
Canada and the United Arab Emirates, a tiny region of the world that is
carving out an enviable niche for itself in the tourism and aviation
industries. Cirque du Soleil and even the Louvre will soon take up residence
there, he remarked, while a new airport is currently under construction that
will have a capacity of 120 million passengers a year.
    "Meanwhile, in Canada, we are under-financing tourism promotion, levying
taxes without investing and without providing services, and we are turning our
back on promising projects," he said in essence. "We will never succeed in
making the Canadian travel industry a true engine of economic development and
remain a major tourism destination unless we adopt a strategic, coordinated
and visionary approach."

    An English translation of the speech is available on the Transat website
at www.transat.com.

    Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more
than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over
50 countries. It is also the largest incoming tour operator in Canada. A
holiday travel specialist, Transat operates mainly in Canada and Europe, as
well as in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean Basin. Montreal-based
Transat is also active in air transportation, accommodation, destination
services and distribution. (TSX: TRZ.B, TRZ.A)




For further information:

For further information: Pierre Tessier, (514) 987-1616 ext. 4662;
Source: Transat A.T. Inc.; www.transat.com


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