Canada 151 and beyond: 3 ways tourism continues to grow
Thursday, April 19, 2018
In 2017, the Canadian tourism industry made waves with its Canada 150 campaign. Touting 150 years of Canadian culture and tradition, the industry reaped the benefits by attracting millions of visitors from around the globe. As the statistics have poured in, it has become clear that the future of Canadian tourism will continue to be bright for its 151st year and beyond.
In a year-end wrap-up, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly acknowledged that the weather may have impacted a few events throughout the year, such as the flooding on Parliament Hill on Canada Day. However, it did not stop the amount of visitors pouring through the gates of Canada's parks and attractions all year.
In an interview with Global News, it was revealed that 5,800 Canada 150 events were held throughout 2017. A French theatrical performance attracted 750,000 viewers over the span of four days. Free admission to national parks and historic sites paid dividends of 27.3 million people. The country managed to pull off its events without one major security threat or incident, and 87 percent of Canadians participated in at least one event.
Touted as the "best year ever" by Destination Canada, it appears that good years will continue to come. Here are three ways the tourism industry will be evolving this year, as well as in the years to come.
Technology as a marketing tactic
More and more, tourism operators are relying on creating Instagram-worthy moments for guests.
Earlier this year, Vancouver announced that it hoped to drive tourism by expanding its free public Wi-Fi. While its intentions were to grow the city's reputation as a "smart city," there are obvious connections to be made in the resulting benefits for tourists. Looking up maps, tourism destinations and online bookings without the fear of going over one's data limits abroad are a sure bonus.
The online connection is also benefitting hospitality providers. Instagram shows no signs of slowing down, as tourism marketers are connecting with followers at a rapid pace. Social media influencers have disrupted the typical marketing campaign, creating a story and sharing their experiences for their followers.
The Richmond News recently spotlighted Ally Pintucci, a tourism influencer who spent a month-long #Staycation at the Parc Vancouver hotel and casino. While slick billboard and television ads are still marketing mainstays, a closer look behind the scenes at a destination's offerings offers social media followers a more intimate advertising experience.
Tour operators would be wise to start using social media to promote their business if they haven't already.
Food and beverage offerings
Canada already boasts a variety of destinations that are well-known for their cuisine, whether it be seafood from the East Coast or Niagara wineries. An upcoming factor for restaurants and hospitality operators to consider is the legalization of marijuana.
In British Columbia, there are whispers that cannabis tourism could go hand in hand with their already-thriving wine and craft beer industry. However, operators are wary of putting their reputations under the influence. There are still several regulations to iron out surrounding pricing, edibles and municipal governments.
The tourism industry plans to keep a close eye on how the marijuana industry will unfold — especially once it becomes legal this summer. Before getting ahead of themselves, they would like to see how (or if) cannabis tourism will take off, and to what extent.
Vendors won't just be relying on the legalization of marijuana to spice things up in the industry. For the past 12 years, the Terroir Symposium has showcased the best in hospitality, tourism and cuisine. This month, more than 60 professionals will gather in Toronto to network and discuss the latest food and beverage trends.
This year's theme will encourage operators to think local, whether it be among local producers, chefs or artisans. Combined with the influence of trends impacting the industry, the flavours that result will be sure to draw the attention of locals and tourists alike.
Diversifying local food and drink options is already at play in one province. April is currently B.C. Wine Month, which celebrates local wines as well as the workers who help produce them. The focus won't just be on the wine — attention will also be paid to grapes, as well as food pairings.
The celebration will continue into May, as the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association will be promoting Buy B.C.: Eat Dine Local, further highlighting food and beverage offerings special to British Columbia.
With endless celebrations, as well as learning opportunities for producers and diners alike, the food industry will continue to produce new menu items; attracting new diners, as well as new tourists.
Canada 150 saw a number of events take place across the country, and sure enough, the events will continue to roll in this year, next year and the years to come.
London, Ontario, will be hosting the Juno Awards in 2019. In addition to the music award show itself, there will be festivities in town for the week leading up to the event. Host cities often see profits of up to $10 million for hosting the show, and given the town's proximity to Toronto and history in Canadian music, organizers are looking forwards to some positive outcomes.
Victoria and Vancouver will be co-hosting the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. Having already hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is well aware of the level of excitement that can come from hosting professional athletes — in this case, hockey's future stars. Past sporting events have done well in Toronto for both tourism and marketing professionals, and it should be no different here, especially given the wait the fans have had to experience.
In the more distant future, perhaps a Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympic Games will be hosted by Calgary. The city is currently looking at bid costs, but questions remain surrounding Alberta's economic recovery and the future of the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Canada 150 gave the country a chance to showcase its offerings on a global tourism scale. The event should not be seen as a one-trick pony — if anything, it has served as a springboard toward future growth and development in several markets.
As marketing, diners' palates and events continue to change and develop, so too will the experiences offered across the nation. It will be interesting to see how numbers and trends continue to grow in the years to come. As of right now, there are no signs of slowing down, which ultimately benefits hospitality and tourism operators alike.
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