As Canadians prime for the lazy days of summer, many look forward to slowing down and taking life easier. For some that means long weekends at the cottage; for others, it’s time to take flight to exotic locations for a vacation interlude a time to re-energize and recover from today’s hectic pace.

The summer season typically bodes well for hoteliers who anticipate solid occupancy and room rates. But, how well hoteliers really do over the next few months will be predicated on a series of factors, many of which are often out of their control.

After all, hotels don’t exist in a vacuum. As Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets Inc., recently said at a conference,What’s happening globally affects Canadians more than what’s happening in Canada. Now, as the euro regains its strength, and as employment rates in the U.S. improve, Tal predicts 2014 will be a strong year. Still, Canada continues to deal with serious issues that need to be rectified if sustained growth is our goal. These include, but are not limited to, tourism marketing funding, labour shortages and infrastructure concerns.

Interestingly, a recent report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that Canada increased its contribution to the economy from travel and tourism by 2.6 per cent in 2013 and is predicted to grow by a further 3.9 per cent. However, that same report shows that travel and tourism only provides 4.5 per cent of GDP to the Canadian economy, compared with the global travel-and-tourism industry, which contributes 9.5 per cent to the world economy.

Why is that the case? Many factors contribute, but a tourism funding shortfall is often cited as the primary reason for our lacklustre performance. ÒCanada needs to invest more money promoting itself abroad to encourage people to choose Canada as a destination,points out David Scowsill, president and CEO of WTTC. ÒThe WTTC would also strongly encourage the Canadian government to focus on policies, which will ease travel to and from, and within Canada.It’s helped that the Canadian government has upgraded its single-entry visa to multiple entry for Chinese visitors (thereby eliminating the need to make repeated applications and fee payments); it’s also set to introduce e-visas in 2015. While these changes may help, Scowsill urges governments to take more action. Travel and tourism forecasts over the next 10 years look extremely favourable, with predicted growth rates of more than four per cent annually that continue to be higher than growth rates in other industries,says Scowsill.If the right steps are taken, travel and tourism can be a true force for good.


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