Many promising opportunities in tourism: Richards

Those who recall Canada’s centennial celebrations might be surprised to learn about a big tourism event looming on the horizon: the 150th anniversary of confederation.

Those who recall Canada’s centennial celebrations might be surprised to learn about a big tourism event looming on the horizon: the 150th anniversary of confederation.

This was one of the opportunities discussed at the recent Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers meetings, which took place this week in Charlottetown. In addition to federal, provincial and territorial tourism and culture ministers, and representatives of the Canadian Tourism Commission and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Wild Rose MP Blake Richards was on hand as chair of the parliamentary tourism caucus.

He said the gathering generated good discussion about the tourism opportunities related to Canada’s milestone year.

“We’re well into the planning stages for the 150th anniversary in 2017.”

Participants also talked about aboriginal tourism, and how many visitors are interested in the history and culture of Canada’s First Nations peoples.

“We had a very good presentation by the Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Circle, which is a national association that works specifically on promoting aboriginal tourism,” said Richards.

“It’s certainly a good opportunity for growth, no question.”

Another promising aspect of Canada’s tourism industry are American visitors. Richards noted how this component of the sector is growing, as the U.S. economy strengthens.

He added that 2013 was a good year for tourism in Canada, with growth of about three per cent.

“If we continue to grow at that kind of pace then certainly we’ll have a very strong industry.”

Richards said some tourism operators in his constituency and elsewhere in the country have suggested that 2014 has been their best year ever.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll see the rate of growth for this year be even higher.”

And with Canada hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Pan Am Games in 2015, the tourism sector could continue to prosper.

Richards, who has chaired the parliamentary tourism caucus for about three years, said the industry is probably underappreciated by many. It generates about $84 billion in revenue and employs 618,000 people, he pointed out.

“That’s a very significant industry, and it’s one that has impacts on every part of the country.”

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