Making connections south of the border

On Wednesday, April 16, the MLOA added its official support to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s push to market our country as a tourism destination for Americans.

TIAC, which represents the entire nation’s tourism sector – from Niagara Falls casinos to Rocky Mountain ski hills to West Coast fishing charters – is currently supporting a campaign led by the Canadian Tourism Commission, called Connecting America. Through this campaign, the CTC (the national equivalent of Travel Manitoba) is asking the federal government to commit $105 million over three years towards a campaign that would bombard the United States with ads touting Canada as a tourism destination for our friends who live south of the 49th. The CTC is promising Ottawa that the federal investment would be matched by a combination of local and provincial governments, and the private sector, for a total investment of $210 million over 3 years. That would buy a lot of Interstate billboards.

We are especially excited that hunting and fishing, which the CTC once shied away from, is specifically mentioned as one of the key pillars of the campaign, along with “natural vistas, world-class cuisine, and cultural and historic adventures.”

TIAC is leading a push to get tourism operators and industry associations like ours to write the federal government and express support for the CTC’s plans. We happily did so. Here is a sample of what our letter said:

“The Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association represents Manitoba’s outdoor tourism industry. Our members attract thousands of anglers and hunters to the province every year, resulting in more than $35 million in direct expenditures by these tourists, much of it in remote northern and rural areas where economic opportunities can sometimes be limited. The vast majority of our members are Canadian residents who run small independent businesses and reinvest their revenues in the Canadian economy. In addition to the direct spending on lodge and outfitting services, our members’ clients bring in millions of dollars more in government revenues through taxes and license fees, and also represent a many-fold boost to the economy thanks to their clients’ indirect spending on things like restaurant meals, transportation, hotels, souvenirs, supplies, fuel and other items.

The majority of our members’ clients come from the U.S., and therefore an investment in that market is a natural fit for attracting more business. The hunting and fishing tourism market sees a great-deal of repeat business; it is not uncommon to hear of visitors who have come to the same lodge every year for 25 years. Therefore investments in geographically close markets like the U.S. are critical, because these are people with the potential to return to Canada many times, rather than flying here from across the globe for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We therefore encourage you to support the CTC’s Connecting America campaign.

The word “investment” is thrown around liberally by governments of all stripes, but when it comes to putting money behind a tourism campaign that will market Canada to our closest and most loyal visitors, it is truly an investment we are sure will offer fantastic returns.”

We will let you know if Ottawa bites.