The government almost tripled its contribution from $14.6 million to $43 million this year and established the Canadian Tourism Commission, a private sector-led body of 26 directors that will control how that money is spent. The private sector, however, is expected to match those federal funds within a year or so while contributing to individual campaigns in the meantime.
The commission will be reviewed after three years but is expected to be a permanent entity.
Commission Acting President Doug Fyfe said Tourism Canada, the governmental department previously responsible for promoting tourism, "lost its voice in the market" by spreading its budget too thin. The choice was either to significantly increase ad and promotional spending, and get more involvement from the private sector, or disband the tourism department altogether.
While the new commission will focus much of its efforts on promoting Canadian tourism in the key markets of Europe, the Asia/Pacific and the U.S., as well as for business travel, it will also encourage Canadians to stay in their own country for vacations.
In fact, the commission's first ad campaign, which broke this month, is targeted to Canadians who travel by car to U.S. destinations within 500 miles of the border. The TV and print ads compare various U.S. destinations with similar Canadian sites.
Some criticism has been lobbed at the commission for this $6 million campaign ($1.7 million of which came from private companies) by some who think the dollars could have attracted more tourism revenue from a hot spot such as Japan.
But Mr. Fyfe defended the campaign, saying the commission expects the investment to generate significantly increased tourism revenue to help offset the country's growing deficit.
"We know we can contribute to the revenue stream," said Mr. Fyfe, especially now that the private sector is directly involved, bringing back to life the old business maxim: To make money, you have to spend money.