May 25th, 2024

Tourism sector rolls out roadmap to boost visitor numbers to pre-pandemic levels


By The Canadian Press on May 16, 2024.

The tourism industry is rolling out a roadmap it hopes will guide more visitors to Canada after the bruising it took during the COVID-19 pandemic. People walk past flowering cherry trees in Centennial Park, in Toronto on Monday, April 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

EDMONTON – The tourism industry is rolling out a roadmap it hopes will bring more visitors to Canada after the bruising it took during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the country’s largest annual tourism convention being held in Edmonton today, Destination Canada and the federal government unveiled a plan that aims to extend the travel season, increase the length of stays and attract more locals, foreigners and business people to a broader range of sites.

Destination Canada CEO Marsha Walden says a warming planet means wildfires are warding off visitors and milder winters are wreaking havoc on ski resorts, but it’s making way for opportunities to attract travellers during the spring and fall that could fill hotels into the shoulder seasons.

Walden and Tourism Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada say they hope to boost Canada’s spot in a World Economic Forum ranking on tourism development after the country slipped out of the top 10 for the first time.

Tourism has come roaring back from pandemic lows, but operators say the sector has yet to reach pre-COVID levels and debt remains a hefty burden for thousands of small businesses across the country.

Destination Canada says international visitor numbers last year sat below figures from four years earlier, with tourists from the U.S. at 85 per cent of 2019 levels and those from further afield at 78 per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2024.

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