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Canadian Tourism

Canada, unlike most other countries in the world, has seen a decline in foreign arrivals over the past 11 years. The three reports below combine to give an overview but it is clear that poor marketing is at the root of the problem.

Canadian Tourism Commission - Imagine The Possibilities

Joyce Murray questions cuts to Canadian Tourism

I have personally talked to each Provinces tourism department and other group organisations as well as the Canadian Tourism Commission. I can confirm they all lack vision and entrepreneurial spirit. The facts speak for themselves in the two reports below yet each Province I contacted and the other groups all told me personally that they were seeing good growth in tourism arrivals from overseas.  In short they are not telling the truth and if they are in such self denial it is no wonder we are not performing well in an industry that could be making billions more for Canada. Heads should roll!!!

The power of tourism

I will say the marketing budgets have been cut by the Federal government but that just means you need to be smarter on how you use what money you have and I see no evidence of that at all. Right now Canada is reporting a $16 billion travel deficit with the rest of the world.  That is a significant amount of our GDP.

Clearly Canada's tourism web sites are not delivering. They may indeed be slowing the decline but in no way are they reversing it.

Canada in particular has a problem as they are obviously not on the radar of most people when they decide where to take their holiday. I now have 3 years worth of stats on the Electric Canadian site and some 78% of visitors to this site come from Canada, 17% from the USA and only 3% are from the UK leaving only 2% from the rest of the world.  I think that says it all really.  Canada's most important countries for tourism are USA by a large margin and then UK, Germany, France and Australia.

In comparison Electric Scotland currently gets 48% of its visitors from the USA, 22% from the UK, 8% from Canada and 5% from Australia leaving 17% from the rest of the world.

I should mention that Electric Scotland received 1.65 million unique visitors in 2013 so it's a decent base for these statistics. The Canadian web site received some 24,000 unique visitors in 2013 so clearly tiny in comparison but that might also say something about the number of people researching Canada online.

Scotland has a population of around 5.4 million whereas Canada has a population of some 35 million.

Now given that there is reckoned to be 45 million Scots at home and abroad with the largest numbers in the USA by far but then the UK and Canada on roughly equal numbers and Australia coming next these figures makes more sense albeit Canada is lower than one would have thought. That is why Canada would seem to have a serious problem in marketing the country as a tourism destination.

Tourism is a huge employer in Canada but there is also a tie up with tourism also leading to exports.  So failure to attract more tourists from outside Canada means we are not exporting as much as we could. 

While the figure above are Scottish oriented that's just because that's my main business which is exploring the history of Scotland and the Scots both at home and abroad.  However I think due to us having a broad reach they probably also reflect other ethnic groups as well.

I decided to make a YouTube video to try and explain all this which you can watch below...

My take on what is wrong with the Canadian Tourism Industry

So having watched the video read the three reports below and decide for yourself...

The Canadian Tourism Industry
A Special Report Fall 2012 (pdf)
Deloitte Report on Tourism
A Special Report for 2014 (pdf)
Canadian Tourism Commission
2013 Annual Report (pdf)

I will finish by saying that Canada does have problems in that the American dollar and Canadian dollar are at nearly par and thus it is now more expensive for Americans to travel to Canada and added to that tighter border controls means they need passports to come to Canada whereas they didn't before.

Added to this Canada has restricted air access through mainly Air Canada and the Canadian airports are expensive. The far more open skies policy of the USA thus offers much more competitive rates.

However we all have challenges and it's the industries job to find and test possible solutions and that means listening to any and all suggestions and at least giving them a fair hearing and possibly a trial.

Canada ranked No. 1 country brand in the world in 2010 and 2011, according to Future Brand, a leading international brand and design consultancy. Despite that we aren't converting that to actual visits.

Web marketing is obviously important but for example I visited the web site of a new links golf course in Cape Breton and a more unwelcoming site you'd be hard to find.  It looks cold, the course looks cold, the rooms look cold and it's empty.  Where are the smiling people enjoying the course and a meal and drink?  Nowhere to be seen.

Part 2 of my research on the Canadian Tourism Industry

I have done further research and I find that the actual travel trade, travel agents, flight tour operators, etc. are equally to blame. I'll site one example and that's Air Transat. They are pushing cheap flights and now also tour packages to the public. To me the core problem is that companies like this generally work on their own web sites and focus entirely on their own sites and content. This is a huge mistake in my view and I'll give you an example of this...

On the Air Transat site they promote their own subsidiary "Canadian Affair" and when you click to go to that web site you'll see they are promoting a whole variety of trips and tours to Canada. Now in there you can book a 9 day tour which includes 2 days on the Rocky Mountaineer train which they quote as being a great scenic trip. Now all that sounds fine but in my view if they worked with third parties they could make that trip even more compelling.

Consider the old sales adage... Attention, Interest, Desire and Close then their sales pitch might have got you through Attention and Interest but at this point they have failed to build Desire for the offering.

For example they could have provided a link to my pages on British Columbia at  where folk could read lots of information about BC but also a specific page providing videos of BC at and the very first video on that page is about the Rocky Mountaineer. It's a 30 minute video and having watched it you're going to want to book that holiday then and there. I mean I challenge you to watch that video and then tell me it's of no interest!!!

So by not using third party web sites they are actually underselling Canada. This is where the Canadian Tourism Commission should be working with them and other web properties to do a far better job. But as usual the CTC doesn't like to talk to anyone other than their own industry and that in my view is their major failing. When the CTC looks at the web they see it as advertising and not a partnership as they should do. For example if they were working with me then yes they could certainly spend some advertising with me but they could also help me build compelling content to help them convert people with an interest in Canada into someone who has the desire to make that trip.

An example of this type of work is that by working with me I could have pointed out the great opportunities there are in Northern Ontario based at Elliot Lake. I have a page for Elliot Lake at

So anyone that is interested in outdoor pursuits can find in the summer, miles of atv trails, canoeing, fishing, golf, walking, and even beaches to relax on. In winter you have again miles of skiing trails, snow mobiles, ice fishing, etc. And like other pages on the site I have lots of videos.

And so in this specific case the CTC and Ontario tourism could make use of my work if they'd make the effort to get involved with me and my web site.

Likewise I spent 2 weeks in Cape Breton and documented my trip there at  and that page gives a great introduction to the island along with videos but also leads to my own personal 2 week journal where I have tons of pictures. So again the CTC is missing out as is Nova Scotia Tourism.

And so I believe the CTC and other tourism groups do a decent job of attracting attention and building some interest but have failed for the most part to build in enough people a desire to actually make the trip by closing the sale and booking their holiday.

As a general note this is what is meant by true innovation and in turn this is the problem with CTC and the travel trade in general in that they are not innovators and have thus totally missed the fantastic opportunity that the non travel trade can make to their offerings.


The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) (Agriculture), today announced the appointment of David Goldstein as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), effective December 1, 2014.

Mr. Goldstein is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), which is the only national trade association representing large and small travel and tourism enterprises. In this capacity, Mr. Goldstein was one of the key architects of the Federal Tourism Strategy with Industry Canada.

The CTC is Canada's national tourism marketing organization. A federal Crown corporation of the Government of Canada, it leads the Canadian tourism industry in marketing Canada as a premier four-season tourism destination. Its vision is to inspire the world to explore Canada. With its partners in the tourism industry, the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories, the CTC promotes Canada's extraordinary experiences in 11 countries around the world. It conducts market research, offers stunning visuals through the Brand Canada Library and provides resources and toolkits to help industry leverage Canada's successful tourism brand-Canada. Keep Exploring.


And please feel free to provide feedback on this using our comments system below or email me directly.


And how's this for a type of outdoor holiday?

True Wild Wilderness Camping in the Northern regions of Canada at its most remote and purest.
On this full adventure we Fly in a Float Plane, We see Moose Bears and Catch and cook Walleye and Pike. This is a 700 km 25 day long true wilderness camping adventure in Canada's North but first starts out with an amazing overlanding road trip in a camper van all the way from Magnettawan Ontario Canada to Leaf Rapids Manitoba passing Lake Superior, The Boundary Waters, Kenora Ontario lake of the Woods, Quetico, past lake Winnipeg to Thompson Manitoba then to Leaf Rapids where we catch a float plane and fly deep into the wilderness. We would then start our adventure heading up River bound of the South Seal and Seal rivers Hudson's Bay and Churchill Manitoba.

Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest coast of America
In the Years 1811 1812, 1813 And 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific by Gabriel Franchere (1854) (pdf)
Travels & Adventures
In Canada and the Indian Territories Between the Years 1760 and 1776 By Alexander Henry, Fur Trader. New Edition, Edited with Notes, Illustrative and Biographical, by James Bain (1901)
Bungalow Camps in Canada
By various authors (1923)
Letters Sent Home
Out and Home Again by way of Canada and the United States or what a summer's trip told me of the people and the country of the Great West by William Morris (1875) (pdf)

Canada We Are
Beautiful CANADA
From TRIBUTE to Canada
Canada We Are. Canada is our home, our country. Canada is a free country. And we are Canadian! Enjoy so many moments in this beautiful land. Cherish our country in an EPIC tribute to all the people and places that make up Canada, from sea to shining sea. We hope you like our montage of beautiful CANADA.

Canada's Underground World

Canadian Prairies: The Grass Kingdom
The vast, quiet plains of the Canadian prairies are home to some of the most productive ecosystems in North America thanks to a seemingly insignificant organsim - grass!

Great Lodges Of The Canadian Rockies

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