Remarks by Steve Allan
Chair of the Board of Directors
Canadian Tourism Commission
at the CTC Annual Public Meeting
November 3, 2010
My name is Steve Allan and I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Canadian Tourism Commission. Welcome to this, our Annual Public Meeting of the CTC. We hope to inform, inspire and maybe even entertain you over the next two hours.
We will also leave time toward the end of this morning’s program to allow for some dialogue and answer any questions you may have.
Most of you, over the last few days, have participated in the National Tourism Summit presented by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
The discussions you have been engaged in are critical to the Canadian tourism industry. We have all wrestled with the issue of Canada’s tourism competitiveness; why are we losing ground in the global tourism marketplace and how can we capitalize on opportunities for growth? We have discussed policy issues that challenge us from being truly competitive internationally. We have talked about how we can leverage our festivals, events and cultural attractions. We have talked about sustainable tourism and our need for a national strategy. And we have talked about our preparedness to welcome a huge influx of Chinese visitors. All of these issues are critical for us as an industry.
One of the themes throughout the sessions has been the need for us to work more effectively together as an industry if we are to become truly competitive on the international stage. We must align our interests, our voices and our investments to take advantage of the opportunities available to us.
As you all know, the Canadian Tourism Commission has a mandate to increase tourism revenues for the Canadian economy. We are a Crown Corporation and our shareholder is the Government of Canada. In order to fulfill our mandate, we work with provinces, territories, destinations and marketers across the country to promote travel to Canada by talking about, and showing, selling and promoting what we all know, are the best tourism experiences in the world.
This Annual Public Meeting is our opportunity to share with you, our key stakeholders, the highlights of our activities for the past year and our plans for the future. We are grateful to TIAC each year for allowing us the opportunity to have this meeting as part of the Tourism Summit.
We all know that 2009 was one of the most challenging years ever for the tourism industry. We were fortunate in Canada to have been able to host an event with the global significance of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Our shareholder provided us with $26 million in funding to help leverage the winter games to benefit Canadian tourism. There is no question these games provided a boost to the Canadian tourism industry and we are now beginning to see the results of our efforts.
Michele McKenzie, our President and Chief Executive Officer, is of course with us here today and I will ask her in a moment to share with you the year to date results that are revealing a very promising upswing in the markets where the CTC has invested its time and financial resources. The early results are indeed impressive! We have a lot more work to do together but this is great news.
As well, Michele will report on the results of our domestic multi-media ad campaign that was launched in 2009 as one of the responses by the federal government to a struggling economy. The Locals Know Campaign was developed with the support of $20 million dollars in federal stimulus funding over a two year period , to boost the Canadian tourism industry while getting Canadians to discover the country they didn’t really know. It worked - it intrigued - and it won awards along the way!
At the time this program was introduced, many tourism businesses were really feeling the pain of the recession, combined with the impact of H1N1 on travel. The Locals Know program pulled the industry together through an affordable, multi-level advertising campaign. Canadians in large numbers did indeed change their travel plans, stayed closer to home and spent their money in Canada. The results of this campaign are also impressive and Michele will share those results with you in a moment.
Michele will also outline the CTC’s strategic shift which has already begun and which will make more effective use of our resources and contribute in a more significant way to stimulating growth in international tourism spending in Canada. Many of you are already aware of our strategic business shift as Michele and her team have been consulting with industry and government leaders across the country for the past several months. We believe we have reacted appropriately to the fiscal environment in which we live. Through our strategic shift we will be positioned to maximize our effectiveness, given our available resources, through the next several years.
In my view, the CTC is one of, if not the most effective national tourism organization in the world. I take absolutely no credit for this myself but I believe we have an outstanding team. We have managed to achieve amazing results with limited resources and have proven time and again that we are nimble and adaptive. One member of our management team sometimes refers to us as the little engine that could: I won’t name him but he has a young daughter who must like that story. In fact it was my favourite story as a kid too.
Anyway, Greg Klassen (like most people on our team) believes that anything is possible with hard work, creativity and market research to back you up. He’s great at building marketing strategies and I think that the whole team would agree he’s exceptionally innovative and likes to take risks. We believe that risk is a key ingredient for success. Balanced with opportunity and accountability, risk must be embraced and encouraged. Our board encourages our management team to be entrepreneurial and to take well managed risks in order to advance Canada’s tourism competiveness.
Greg is our Senior Vice President, Marketing Strategy and Communications and he will bring you a glimpse of where the organization is headed, particularly with respect to innovation, technology and new marketing.
I am very proud of this organization because it does continue to turn challenges into opportunities. Due to our declining core funding, we are no different than other Canadian businesses which have to adjust to new realities, creeping costs and an increasingly competitive world. The Board of Directors believes in our leadership team. We have taken steps that would be considered bold for an organization in the private sector let alone a government organization. We are impressed with what our team has achieved and I believe you will be impressed as well.
The status quo was not an option - it took leadership to drive these changes and say to our partners, “we can’t do it all, we must each play to our strengths and place our investment dollars where we can each achieve the greatest return”. Our partners, many of whom are here today, have understood this and realized it was also time to take a fresh look.
I believe this is an important message for all organizations in our industry. We need to look at the role we each play in marketing tourism. We all need to play to our strengths – how can we collectively deliver the best return for our investment.
Tourism is not about politics or turf: It’s a business and by working together – governments and industry – we need to be smarter about what we do and how we do it.
There is considerable marketing money in the system but we must align our efforts to achieve the maximum return for our collective dollars. And we need to focus more on the international market place. There is a tremendous amount of money being spent by PMOs, DMOs and the industry in Canada trying to move 34 million people around this country. While the domestic market has grown over the past ten years, I don’t believe that growth can be sustained. If the industry is going to continue to grow in this country, it will do so only by accessing the explosive growth that has been taking place and is expected to continue to take place in the international market place.
Failing this, we are just selling to our neighbours instead of marketing to the world. Our collective goal must be to entice more and more international travellers to spend their money in Canada.
It is incumbent on the leaders of the tourism industry throughout this country to work together, to align their goals and objectives and to deliver results for the industry.
I am satisfied that the CTC is on the right path and we stand ready to partner with the Canadian tourism industry to capitalize on these opportunities for growth
It is now a pleasure for me to introduce our President and CEO, Michele Mckenzie.