Can Canada bring American boomers north?

November 10, 2015

This is part of The Globe and Mail’s week-long series on baby boomers and how their spending, investing, health and lifestyle decisions could affect Canada’s economy in the next fifteen years. Is Canada ready for the boom?

For more, visit tgam.ca/boomershift and on Twitter at #GlobeBoomers.

Recent Forbes reports suggest that in the United States, boomers spend $157-billion (U.S.) on trips every year, with polls ranking it the No.1 leisure activity. So, what is the Canadian tourism industry doing about bringing those travellers, and their deep pockets, north?Website Insert Our Name Tells Our Story copy

A favourable exchange rate certainly encourages Americans to cross the border, but it can’t be relied upon, experts warn.

Canada has maintained an annual average of 17 million international travellers for the past 10 years, but lobbyists are gunning to increase this traffic by at least 5 per cent a year to stay competitive internationally and tap into the boomer movement.

“The ‘bucket list’ choice[s] are not rational or economic: People spend the money because it’s an adventure of a lifetime. We need to put more Canadian experiences on this bucket list,” travel industry lobbyist Rob Taylor says.

Recently, the federal government announced $30-million over three years for a “Connecting America” project to help the sector entice our southern neighbours (a market of 76.4 million American boomers). Industry insiders hope to triple the funding for Connecting America with other partners, amplifying the $10-million federal injection each year by partnering their efforts with national tourism agencies, such as Destination Canada, provincial tourism marketing boards, and private and regional industry, including hotel chains, airlines, attractions and Via Rail for a bigger impact.

Tourism is good for the country’s economic engine because once people visit Canada, they will keep coming back: Deloitte research from 2012 determined that a 1-per-cent increase in international arrivals could increase Canadian exports by $817-million over the following two years.

Similar research from the Canadian Tourism Commission in 2014 found that for every $1 it spent on marketing abroad, on average $40 was returned in tourist spending in Canada.

Read The Globe and Mail writer Laura Beeston’s full article by clicking here.

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