TORONTO — The Canadian Resort Development Association’s (CRDA) 2012 Annual Conference kicked off yesterday with an eye-opening address from Ross Perlmutter, president and CEO of CRDA.

“It’s not business as usual anymore,” he began, explaining how the last four years in the industry have been tumultuous with the collapse of the financial market, dealing with an aging owner base who are abandoning their time shares, and an overall decline in prices in the retail market. “We know there’s a chance for us to shift the model, and just like the other industries — the music industry, the publishing industry — they’ve all gone through shifts. Quite frankly it’s naïve of us to think that our industry would be immune from that. We really do need to adapt,” he said.

Paul Nursey, VP of Strategy and Corporate Communications at the Canadian Tourism Industry (CTC), Canada’s national tourism marketing agency, showed optimism with regard to the state of the industry in his presentation. He outlined the size of the market, showing international visitations to Canada generated $16 million in overnight trips last year, representing total revenues of $78.8 billion and creating more than 603,400 jobs in tourism spending. His presentation also defined key travelling markets, and emerging markets and how to cater to their needs.

The second speaker, Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), also voiced optimism, judging by the robust growth in the fourth quarter of 2011 and first quarter of 2012. His presentation showed an in-depth look at the obstacles in the market, including the unregulated secondary market, and self-managed legacy resorts, with tips on how adapt.

“I think 15 years from now, we will look at this time as where we got really smart in our business,” he concluded.

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