Tourism | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Visitors from outside Canada make tourism Canada's fifth-largest earner of foreign exchange after motor vehicles, auto parts, crude petroleum and newsprint. The bulk of Canada's tourism comes from Canadians travelling in and exploring their own country.


 Tourism is a complete and naturally related collection of services with a single unifying purpose: to provide TRANSPORTATION, accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment to Canadians or foreigners travelling in Canada for any purpose. It is an important and fast-growing industry. Canada's tourism industry earned over $44 billion in 1998, representing, directly or indirectly, more than 10% of the labour force. By the year 2000 it could be one of the most important single economic activities in Canada. Money spent on tourism products has a great impact on employment, both directly and indirectly, that is at least equal to, and in many cases more than, spending in the nation's leading 40 industries.

Visitors from outside Canada make tourism Canada's fifth-largest earner of foreign exchange after motor vehicles, auto parts, crude petroleum and newsprint. The bulk of Canada's tourism comes from Canadians travelling in and exploring their own country. On the international travel account, Canada has a falling share of the international market and a $1.2-billion deficit: Canadians spent $7.5 billion outside Canada. Catering to tourists in Canada involves many large companies and about 100 000 small and medium-sized businesses, including almost 300 000 hotel and motel rooms, more than 45 000 eating places and 4000 travel agencies. These businesses serve over 34 million visitors a year. Every 100 000 visitors to a community can mean $9 million in revenue throughout the local economy.

At the federal level tourism is the responsibility of the minister of state for small business and tourism through Tourism Canada in the Department of Regional Industrial Expansion. The promotion and development of tourism through a designated federal agency dates from 1934. The recognized national industry association is the Ottawa-based Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). It is an umbrella organization representing private sector companies, organizations, institutions and individuals engaged in tourism in Canada and working in partnership with provincial and territorial tourism-industry associations. TIAC has represented the Canadian tourism industry for 69 years and exists to lobby government, to communicate with industry, and to increase public awareness of the importance of tourism and the need for public support.

Tourism dates back to the early history of Canada. Writings by the early explorers and traders contributed to the growing knowledge of the Canadian landscape, still the primary attraction of Canada's tourism industry (see EXPLORATION AND TRAVEL LITERATURE). From the mid-18th to the early 19th century TOPOGRAPHIC PAINTERS recorded an idealized landscape, scenes that were often reproduced as engravings in travel books published in Europe. The CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY, through its rail and steamship services, its hotels and publicity campaigns, attracted affluent European and American tourists to Canada. Modern travel and the opportunity for mass travel came with the jet airplane. Business travel illustrates the degree of change: travel and related expenses are the third-largest expenditure of Canadian business, after payroll and data-processing expenditures. Canadian companies spent $3 billion in 1986.

The Canadian tourism industry requires sophisticated marketing, delivering value and service. Beginning in 1984 Canada experienced a turnaround following 10 years of decline during which its balance of payments deficit on the international travel account grew from $300 million to $2.2 billion. Nineteen eighty-six was an exceptional year: foreign visitors increased 18%. The primary reasons for this growth were EXPO 86 in Vancouver, a favourable exchange rate with the US, an aggressive federal government advertising campaign in the US and negative incidents in other parts of the world which discouraged N Americans from travelling overseas. The best potential new source for travellers to Canada is likely in the Pacific Rim countries. Arrivals from Japan and Hong Kong are expected to show an increase, continuing an upward trend that started in 1979. Australia remains stable. The US continues to be Canada's primary source of visitors; they comprise over 85% of our tourism market. Traditional European markets, including the UK, France, W Germany and the Netherlands, are expected to produce moderate growth over the next few years.

Contemporary Canadian tourist attractions are often the same as those extolled by early travel writers - the fjorded coast of BC, the majestic grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, the wide open spaces of the Prairies, the lakes, forests and rivers of central Canada, the Atlantic coast in its infinite variety of bays, coves, beaches and scenic vistas, the arctic environment and people, and, of course, such old favourites as NIAGARA FALLS. The works of humans have been added to these natural assets through the development of modern and sophisticated cities, and through galleries and museums, performing arts, historic sites, FESTIVALS, and events such as Expo 86, the CALGARY STAMPEDE and winter OLYMPIC GAMES. To most of the world Canada is known as a tourist destination through its scenery, space and environment.