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Competing with a Strong Brand - Canadian Tourism Commission 2008 Annual Report

VANCOUVER, BC, May 6, 2009 – Documenting a year that saw Canada’s tourism brand win international kudos, Minister of Industry, the Honourable Tony Clement today tabled the 2008 Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) Annual Report in Parliament.

Over the last five years the Canadian tourism sector outperformed the overall Canadian economy.  In fact tourism activity in Canada represents 2% of Canada’s overall GDP, making tourism a significant economic sector in Canada with a GDP equivalent to agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting combined. In 2008, tourism’s contribution to Canadian GDP reached $30.7 billion, up 7.3% over 2007. Total tourism revenue reached $74.9 billion in 2008, up 5.8%, while all governments’ revenue generated by tourism reached $22.2 billion, up 5.7%. 

While the Canadian tourism industry is struggling in the face of fierce international competition from up and coming destinations, CTC has recognized the challenge and has worked aggressively to reposition its tourism Brand internationally. That Brand has now gained traction. 

2008 Highlights

  • In just two years, Canada jumped from the world’s 12th most respected country brand to No. 2 spot according to FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index for 2008,
  • The influential Lonely Planet guide book publisher named Canada one of the Top 10 Countries to visit for 2009;
  • A Brand Toolkit spelled out the essence of Canada’s tourism brand with ready-to-use graphics, photos and guidelines that make it easy for users to unite behind one consistent, signature voice;
  • An Experiences Toolkit was launched to help small and medium-sized tourism businesses market their products as extraordinary experiences instead of commodities link;
  • An innovative global marketing strategy used social media for the CTC’s first global TV and internet campaign.

Said CTC President and CEO Michele McKenzie, “Despite the challenges faced by the global economy and the highly competitive market for tourism dollars, significant brand recognition for Canada during 2008 is proof that the “Canada. Keep exploring” brand is sound, solid and working.”

Balanced Scorecard: return on investment

The CTC adopted the Balanced Scorecard in 2008 as a performance measurement framework and identified three metrics that are critical to growing tourism export revenues for Canada. In addition to achieving awareness of Canada as a tourism destination and strong participation in partnered programs, the CTC’s marketing strategy is fully focused on conversion - compelling the customer to commit and book the trip. The success of these efforts is measured for each program as return on investment


The CTC is founded on the principle of partnerships between the public sector and private industry. By leveraging contributions from partners that match its own funding, the Commission is able to achieve the maximum return on investment for its tourism marketing initiatives. In 2008, partnership contributions totalled $95.8 million, resulting in an overall 1.2:1.0 ratio of partner contributions to its annual appropriation.

2010 Winter Games

Commenting on the CTC’s key priority to leverage the 2010 Winter Games, McKenzie noted, “We know that the Canadian tourism industry will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Games. We’re investing $26 million allocated by the federal government in a strategy to make the most of the international media exposure and create long-term, increased global awareness of Canada that will drive tourism and increase export dollars before and long after the Games.”

During the year, the CTC and its partners launched a number of 2010-related initiatives, including:

  • A library of high-definition assets produced in partnership with Broadcasters with compelling images from across the country; 
  • First-ever international appearance of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Mascots in Asia;
  • Welcome to Canada, created in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Games, is the result of a new partnership between the Canada Border Services Agency and the CTC. Together, the two organizations have made arriving at key international ports of entry a welcoming experience, giving travellers a sneak peak at some of the extraordinary experiences they can enjoy here;
  • A partnership with the Four Host First Nations to market Aboriginal tourism before, during and after the 2010 Winter Games.

Official Languages

The CTC ranked first of all 38 institutions assessed as part of the 2007-2008 Report Card exercise for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. As one of only three institutions to obtain an overall rating of “A”, the CTC is committed to both official languages having equality of status and equal rights and privileges within the Commission.

Opportunities for 2009

Looking ahead, McKenzie said that  the CTC will focus on inspiring Canadians to travel within Canada and entry into the new, high-growth emerging markets of India and Brazil, supported by the federal government’s economic stimulus funding. “Canada’s future competitiveness depends on growth from international markets, and the investment by the federal government recognizes that further expansion of Canada’s Brand can increase tourism export revenues at home.” As well, CTC recognizes the importance of  priority markets such as the United States and will be doing even more to inspire our American neighbours to rediscover Canada.

In the interest of protecting the environment, please visit our website to read the full report and bookmark us for future reference.


About the CTC

The CTC is Canada’s national tourism marketing organization. Our vision is inspiring the world to explore Canada. With our partners in the tourism industry and the governments of Canada, the provinces and the territories, we advertise and market Canada in 12 countries around the world, conduct industry research and studies, and promote product and industry development. For weekly updates on CTC initiatives, subscribe to CTC News, available through RSS feeds and by e-mail.

For further information, please contact:

Margaret Nevin

Canadian Tourism Commission / Commission canadienne du tourisme

Tel/ Tél  (604) 638-8406

Fax/ Téléc (604) 638-8438