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Canada needs to reposition its tourist appeal

As the survey numbers make clear, Americans show a decided preference for visiting Canada in the spring and summer, followed by fall and winter, despite Canada’s world renown as a winter playground. The numbers are telling: 63% have been to Canada in the spring versus 37% in the winter, even though only 20% of all respondents cited bad weather as a concern.

It is quite possible that tourists have been misinformed about Canada’s other well-developed summer and all-season offerings, such as golfing, the performing arts, spas, retreats and fishing and hunting. Here is an opportunity to leverage and capitalize on Canada’s existing tourism assets – outstanding, yet underexploited offerings well suited to adventure-minded Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y – through more aggressive promotion and education  programs.

“If consumers are not made aware of these products and services, they are not going to buy,” says Williams. “It’s that simple. The only way to be top of mind is to get an ad right in front of  them just as they’re making their decision about where to go.”

The experienced generations have an altogether more favorable impression of Canada, choosing the words “friendly,” “down to earth” and “honest” as descriptors. Most have visited on more than one occasion and plan to return. They also have a firmer grasp of all that Canada has to offer – from coast to coast to coast, from rustic outposts to the heights of cosmopolitan culture. Amazingly, they even report knowing more about Canada’s nightlife than any other generation.

The contemporary generations proved to be the most lukewarm about Canada, rating it as an average place to vacation, or just “plain.” Among the least likely to visit any time soon, many see Hawaii and Central and South America on their travel horizons over the next few years. That they are clearly adventurous, however, is borne out by the fact that they have taken more trips to Asia than any other demographic.

To their credit, the contemporary generations reported knowing more about Canada’s skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, professional sports and spas than the Boomers. However, a small but notable proportion of the youngest respondents actually dubbed the idea of travel to the “Great White North” boring. In addition, these generations – with the least amount of knowledge about Canada were able to offer no particular reason for their lack of interest in going to Canada, even when their perceptions are on the whole positive.

Canadian services/experiences deemed less than good/excellent

  • 21% Professional sports
  • 18% Spas/retreats
  • 15% Theme and amusement parks
  • 14% Beaches
  • 13% Golfing

Appeal of the cruise industry

  • Variety without the inconvenience of having to think
  • Entertainment: movies, spas, rock climbing, wave pools, bowling, shooting, chess, literary clubs, casinos, nightclubs,  golf, fitness with trainers, shopping, dancing classes, cooking classes, language classes, port of call excursions
  • Easy to meet others: socialization
  • Convenience of packaging: all inclusive, big time saver and stress reliever
  • Easy 24-hour access to food and drink
  • Removes decision making process and need to travel
  • Resort hotel with flavour of adventure travel without having to pack or unpack
  • All inclusive choices
  • Romance


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