With visitor numbers up in all of CTC’s key international markets in February, we can finally look to the future with cautious optimism after a difficult three years.
It’s official: the stars aligned in Canada’s tourism sky in February 2012. The latest figures, just released by Statistics Canada, show an uptick in visitors from all of CTC’s 11 key international markets.
This is great news, and even more welcome after the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer showed Canada slipping to 18th place in terms of international arrivals for 2011.But we mustn’t get carried away. We’ve yet to recover to the pre-recession high of 2008 for revenue levels from international markets. And on the flip side, Canadians continue to travel outside their country with a vengeance; their total of 2.3 million trips in February was 7.8% up on the same time last year.
However, we should enjoy the International Travel Survey data, as feel-good stories have been hard to come by during the global economic downturn these past three years. A sense of cautious optimism is in order for the Canadian tourism industry.
Our research shows that awareness of Canada is high in most of our key markets. Canada has the No.1 country brand for the second year in a row, which raises our profile around the globe. Our own investments, whether they are in marketing or social media, have never been higher in these markets (with the honourable exception of the US). And the goodwill and great publicity that the 2010 Winter Games gave to Canada continues to resonate among consumers.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the markets. More than 30,000 French travellers came our way in February (up 9.6%) as well as 12,400-plus Germans (up 21.1%). Given the ongoing financial troubles for the Euro zone, which seems to teeter on different brinks of calamity each week, this is most encouraging.
Our strong ski markets of Brazil (+48.2%) and Australia (+11.4%) certainly flexed their tourism muscles. I suspect the great snow that has blanketed the mountains in western Canada has helped to spur consumers in both countries to take a trip our way.
The Mexico market looks to have put the dark days of 2009 and 2010 behind it, when new visa restrictions caused the market to decline. This February’s year-on-year growth of 31.9%, coming on the back of stronger performances in late 2011, shows that enthusiasm for travel to Canada is definitely in an upswing.
The same applies for Japan. We all know the terrible pain the country suffered last year in the wake of the March Tōhuku earthquake and tsunami, but this month’s numbers—13,392 trips to Canada, a 13.6% rise on February 2011—underline the steady growth that Japan was enjoying before those tragic events took place.
Perhaps the least surprising (but still great to read) data was that from India and China, the world’s two fastest-growing economic powerhouses. Both markets continued to show their appetite for Canadian travel experiences, with growth of 15.8% and 7.9% respectively. Long may this pattern continue!
The US gets more attention than ever in a presidential election year. Early economic signs have been promising, with the jobless total diminishing each month and consumer confidence starting to seep back. Happily, this is being mirrored in Americans’ travel habits, with more than a million heading north to Canada in February, an 8.1% jump. Rises in air (10.6%) and auto travel (5.9%) played significant parts in this positive news.
Those are the bare bones of the figures. I’m also very keen to hear first-hand from the Canadian tourism industry how this has played out on the ground. For instance: Where did those Brazilians go? Did they enjoy it? Will they be returning? These are authentic travel stories well worth sharing. Tweet them to me @CTCCEO please or leave a note in the comments below.