Every Canadian has a role to play in marketing our country

  • National Newswatch

Across our nation, communities everywhere are putting the final touches on their summer events: festivals, fireworks, races, picnics and celebrations. Some will be local affairs; others will draw in people from around the globe.The common theme will be bringing people together to celebrate and show off a piece of the community.Tourism isn't just about sightseeing and travel; it's about experiencing something different, something new – a world outside your own.This week is tourism week.Tourism is an industry that reaches into each of our communities, our homes and our land.It is an industry that is crucial to our economy.It is an industry that supports 1 in 11 jobs in Canada and last year brought in more than $90 billion in revenues for key service industries, including accommodation, food and beverage, passenger transportation, recreation and entertainment, and retail.The vast majority of the businesses in the tourism sector are small and medium-sized—the backbones of our economy.And it is an industry on the rise.In 2015, 17.8 million people came to Canada and spent at least one night. That's up 7.5 percent from the previous year. International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent worldwide in 2015, so Canada is now outpacing global growth. This is great news!A lot of that growth is coming from the U.S. market: we welcomed 12.5 million American tourists in 2015. That's about 1 million more than in 2014, marking the best annual increase since 1998.Canada needs to build on this momentum over the next year as we move toward our country's 150th birthday celebration in 2017. This is an opportunity to showcase what Canada has to offer so tourists don't just visit, they keep coming back.That's why Budget2016 provides and additional $50 million to Destination Canada to bolster marketing initiatives in key international markets in the U.S. and around the world.But every Canadian has a role to play in marketing our country, and bolstering tourism. Every time you give tourists directions, every time you recommend a good restaurant, a great coffee, the hidden boutique around the corner – every time a Canadian welcomes someone else, and shows them the warmth of our nation, this has an impact on tourism.Global travellers want to explore, live a life less ordinary and leave their cares behind. National parks, beautiful cities and a vibrant cultural life are cornerstones of Canada's tourism offerings. But so too are each and every one of us.Wishing you a great summer full of amazing experiences and memories – for both you and our tourists!Bardish Chagger is Minister of Small Business and Tourism.