Destination BC Still After U.S. Visitors

Stars & Stripes | BCBusiness
The stars and stripes.

The Canadian Tourism Commission has pulled its focus and dollars from the U.S. leisure market, but Destination BC will continue to court American visitors

When it comes to tourist dollars, B.C. hasn’t given up on America yet—not even close.

Destination BC Corp. (Destination BC) will continue to invest marketing dollars in the U.S. even though, after three straight years of declines in American tourist visitor numbers and spending, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) will not.

The CTC’s recently released 2012 Annual Report confirmed the organization’s adherence to its strategic plan that relocates previously American-targeted dollars to be spent on higher-yielding countries, like the burgeoning Chinese and Brazil markets.

The U.S. remains an important market for Canada, Paul Nursey, vice-president of strategy and corporate communications for the CTC, told the Toronto Star, but the CTC will “cede leadership in the U.S. leisure market to provincial and territorial partners.”

A spokesperson for Destination BC confirmed that the organization will continue to market to the U.S and has just launched its 2013 Spring/Summer North America consumer marketing campaign.

The U.S. is the largest overnight international market for B.C., comprising over two-thirds of international visitor volume and nearly half of expenditures for the province in 2011. Destination BC also partners with B.C.’s regional tourism marketing organizations to reach near-by markets, including Washington State. 

The CTC’s shift in strategy began in 2010, and last year the organization officially halted media and public relations, social media and direct-to-consumer marketing and advertising through travel agents and tour operators in the U.S.

According to the 2012 Annual Report , since 2000, tourism revenues from outside Canada have dropped from 35 per cent to just below19 per cent, a decline largely attributed to diminished travel from the U.S. market. This comes at a time, the report clarifies, when global receipts are growing and more than doubled from under $500 billion in 2000 to over $1 trillion in the last decade.

A U.S. visitor spent, on average in 2012, $518 per trip to Canada, while a visitor from China spent $1,570. Other factors in the CTC decision to pull marketing intiatives out of the U.S. include that in 2011 Canada fell from a Top 10 destination (to number 18), funding cuts to the CTC in 2012. 

Despite its exit from the U.S. leisure market, the report says that the CTC will remain active in the markets that account for more than 60 per cent of all international arrivals to Canada.

Destination BC’s spokesperson says the organization will continue to work closely with the CTC in many of its overseas markets and search out partnership opportunities with them.