Report by Waheeda Harris
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
As citizens are sharing their pride and enthusiasm for Canadian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the nation’s tourism leaders will gather in Toronto to discuss the opportunities to share the Canada brand.
The annual Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit this week brings together movers and shakers from throughout the tourism industry to discuss not just how to promote the Great White North to travellers around the globe, but to increase our widespread population to explore within its own borders.
Held at the recently refurbished Eaton Chelsea in downtown Toronto, the fourth edition of the summit will be a hot bed of ideas and discussions, with notable lectures from Greg Klassen, CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tony D’Astolfo of PhoCusWright, Wayne St. John of Publicitas Canada, Terry O’Reilly of Pirate Radio & Television and Cindy Ady, interim CEO of Tourism Calgary.
A major focus for many attendees from the resort, hotel, attraction and transportation sectors will be the United States. A massive leisure travel group, Americans are the most important foreign traveller to Canada’s tourism industry, which represents $81.7 billion and employment for more than 600,000, according to the Conference Board of Canada. But in recent years, Americans have decreased the number of trips they take north because of the economic recession, changes in passport rules and a stronger Canadian currency.
Lyle Hall, managing director of HLT Advisory, who has consulted with the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries for the past 30 years, believes the US is always key to the tourism industry in Canada.
“The only way to achieve aggressive tourism growth targets to Canada, whether visitation or visitor spending, is to re-engage with our largest, closest and wealthiest market: the United States. Respondents to the pre-conference survey reiterated this focus with almost 80% saying re-engaging with the US is important,” said Hall, who will be the opening-day speaker for the summit.
While provincial and municipal tourism boards market to leisure travellers in the US, the CTC has shifted its marketing budget away from America and to emerging markets such as China and India. The CTC continues to heavily market business events in the US, including attracting the 30th annual TED Conference to Vancouver in March. Business events are responsible for 22% of travel spending in Canada, the CTC says.
This year’s Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit is held in conjunction with the Hotel Association of Canada conference, with keynote speaker Sheryl Connelly offering her unique insight as Ford Canada’s Global Consumer Trends and Future Manager, a position she has held for 10 years. Other notable speakers include Steve Ball of Green Key Global, Eric Morris of Google and Daniele Gadbois of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
MORE ABOUT THE CANADIAN TOURISM MARKETING SUMMIT
Dates: February 12-13, 2014
Where: Eaton Chelsea, 33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto, ON (see map below)
Registration: Conference fee is $549. You can save $50 when you use the passcode CTC. Visit the conference website for more details.
Note: Vacay.ca co-founder and columnist Adrian Brijbassi, who is the CTC’s manager of social media and advocacy, will be speaking on mobile and social strategies at 11 am ET on February 13.
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