OTTAWA — A new Canadian tourism strategy is meant to help boost international visits to Canada during non-peak seasons by more than a million people and get visitors to see the country beyond Canada's biggest cities.
The plan, unveiled in Montreal, includes $58.5 million over two years to help communities create or improve tourism facilities and experiences.
The funding is supposed to back experiences that show off Canada's strengths — and break visitors' fixation on just a few destinations in the nicest weather.
"Just over three out of four international visitors travel only to Canada's largest provinces, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, and most go to their biggest cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal," the new strategy states.
"Drawing tourists to venture beyond the big cities remains a challenge for regions that want to expand their visitor economies."
Tourism Minister Melanie Joly said Tuesday that the tourism measures are tooled to help tourism revenues grow by 25 per cent — to $128 billion —by 2025 and the government also hopes to create 54,000 new jobs directly related to tourism.
In 2018, the federal government says, Canada welcomed 21.1 million international tourists, surpassing the previous year's record of 20.9 million.
The federal government knows that tourism helps every part of the country, Joly said, adding it has seen many examples of communities transforming and diversifying their economies by attracting visitors.
Tourism is a pillar of the Canadian economy, generating $102 billion in annual economic activity, supporting 1.8 million jobs and accounting for over two per cent of gross domestic product, the federal government said.
After the Montreal announcement, Joly headed into Ontario for stops at a brewery and a winery in the eastern part of the province, where culinary tourism is a fledgling industry.
The Canadian Press