What do Americans know about Canada?



    OTTAWA, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - While tourism is big business in Canada and
a key driver of economic growth, it must do more to pique the interest of its
biggest source of visitors, according to a new report on American travellers'
perceptions of Canada released in conjunction with Tourism Week in Canada,
June 4-10, 2007.
    The study, released jointly by Deloitte the Tourism Industry Association
of Canada (TIAC), cites many factors affecting Americans' travel choices,
including, the rising value of the Canadian dollar, a slowing U.S. economy,
high gas prices, confusion over passport requirements and the declining
interest in and awareness of Canada as a destination. As a result, Canada must
clearly target different travelers and educate them on what Canada has to
offer.
    "While Canada is seen as friendly, down to earth, traditional and safe,
it doesn't inspire the sense of excitement and adventure that Americans are
looking for," says Ryan Brain, Partner and National Practice Leader of
Deloitte's Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure practice in Canada.
    "In an increasingly competitive global tourism marketplace, Canada is
losing ground," states Randy Williams, President and CEO of the Tourism
Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). "Many of these factors are beyond the
industry's control, which makes understanding American travellers and how to
reignite their interest in travelling to Canada even more critical."
    The report, titled Destination Canada: Are We Doing Enough?, identifies
geographical, gender and generational differences in perceptions of Canada.
Some of the key findings include:

    
    Americans living closest to the Canadian border have good knowledge of
    Canadian tourism products and services. However, these visitors are the
    most sensitive to economic and political changes and expect to visit
    Canada less often in the future, a red flag for the industry.

    Outdoor activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and
    boating, with which Canadians strongly identify, are barely known to many
    Americans. Some 40 per cent of respondents say they have a poor level of
    awareness about these offerings.

    Men generally travel more frequently than women, and are more
    knowledgeable about Canada's travel services and experiences. This may be
    because Canada is seen as more masculine than feminine. Not surprisingly,
    more respondents describe Canada as "masculine" than "feminine".

    Boomers and their elders, tend to have a more favorable impression of
    Canada than Generations X and Y, who view Canada as an average, even
    boring, travel prospect.
    

    "Age is by far the biggest factor, with distinct differences in the
experiences, attitudes and perceptions among each generation," says Brain.
"The one similarity is a strong desire for new and exciting travel experiences
and adventures."
    "If consumers are not aware, they are not going to buy," says Williams.
"We must be there with the ad when they are making a decision on where to go.
Canada has to be top of mind."
    Combating the decline in U.S. visitation is the key challenge for
Canadian destination marketing organizations (DMO). The good news is a healthy
68 per cent of DMOs reported the introduction of new products and services in
the areas of agri-tourism, waterfront rejuvenation, winery growth, golf course
expansions, health and wellness services and cultural tourism. "Canada needs
to add more fun and adventure to its image," says Deloitte's Brain. "We need
the right product - the right active tours and adventure experiences. And most
importantly, we need to promote them."
    Despite a growing travel deficit, thanks to a 34% drop in American
visitation in 2006 compared to 2000, Canadians are travelling domestically as
much as ever. As the industry gears up for a busy summer tourist season,
Tourism Week in Canada, coordinated by TIAC around the theme "Tourism,
Canada's Passport to Prosperity", is a great opportunity for Canadians and
their governments to learn more about the tremendous economic and social
importance of this $66.9 billion industry.
    While the tourism sector employs 10.6% of the Canadian workforce,
supports economic development in communities that are no longer able to rely
on traditional, resource-dependent industries, and generates an estimated
$18 billion in tax revenues for all levels of government, its value is far
more than economic.
    Tourism supports a wealth of cultural experiences, learning opportunities
and recreational activities that allow Canadians to explore this beautiful
country and all it has to offer and get to know Canadians from other regions.
Looking beyond our borders, tourism brings the world to Canada. It connects us
globally and showcases our national identity.
    "Canada is fortunate that it already has a well established tourism
industry," Mr. Williams points out. "However, as competition for international
visitors increases on the global market, Canadians and their governments must
not make the mistake of taking it for granted."

    The Tourism Industry Association of Canada is the national private-sector
advocate for Canada's $66.9 billion tourism industry. It helps ensure the
Canadian business and policy environment works for tourism, by communicating
its importance to Canadians, advocating positive measures, and lobbying
government for action.




For further information:

For further information: Chris Jones, Vice President, Public Affairs,
Tourism Industry Association of Canada, (613) 238-7557, Cell: (613) 668-3588,
cjones@tiac.travel


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