Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association

Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association

September 26, 2007 10:55 ET

ORHMA Urges Government to Increase Tourism Funding

Need to Address Falling U.S. Visitors and Spending

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, News Editor, Travel/Tourism Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2007) - The American tourist is becoming an endangered species in Ontario and Canada," states Rob Evans, President and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association. "The 'disappearing American' phenomenon is due to a number of factors coming together at the same time."

"First there is the Canadian dollar trading at parity with the American dollar where Ontario has lost major competitive advantage," continues Rob "Then there is the ever-tightening U.S. border, and confusion over passport requirements. Meanwhile, a sagging American economy and turmoil within the credit and mortgage sectors mean greater reluctance of Americans to spend their shrinking dollars on travel, especially outside of the country. Some even say that Canada and Ontario lack an image and cache with nothing new to entice the American tourist here - less of the same."

American visitation to Canada, and especially Ontario, has been in a freefall for the past several years. For the first five months of 2007, U.S. border crossings into Ontario were down 19% over 2006 and 51% compared to 1998. Statistics Canada recently reported that overnight travel from the United States to Canada in July 2007 fell to its lowest level since the height of the SARS crisis over four years ago and the second lowest in over a decade. Overnight visits to Ontario fared even worse than the national trend.

Spending by U.S. visitors to Canada during the key summer months dropped dramatically compared with same-period last year based on credit card and ATM transactions. Especially hard hit was the hospitality industry with 13% fewer hotel reservations and an 8% drop in restaurant visits. This trend holds true for every major Canadian city according to Moneris Solutions Corporation (September 24, 2007).

A recent Statistics Canada study found that tourism generated $19.4 billion in tax revenue to the provincial and federal governments in 2006, up 29% from 2000. For every $100 of tourist spending, the federal government raised $13.60 and provinces $13.90. That being said, governments need to keep pace with, and invest at a parallel rate to, the income they derive from tourism .

The ORHMA, along with its tourism partners, is urging all political parties in Ontario's election that Ontario's sagging tourism industry needs help. We have to sell our province and its assets better and more extensively through the following means:

* infuse an additional $60 million in marketing and promotion over the next three years;
* refurbish provincial attractions;
* launch new attractions such as festivals, cultural and sporting events;
* address border access issues; and
* develop a comprehensive provincial competitiveness strategy to inform and guide future policy decisions.

It is only through investing and reinvesting in Ontario that we can again become a tourism leader in North American. To do nothing jeopardizes Ontario's $21.4 billion tourism industry and its 213, 500 employees and their families.

For more information please contact Rob Evans, President and CEO at 905-361-0268 ext 320. For more information on the state of Ontario's hospitality industry and its election issues, go to www.orhma.com

The ORHMA, the voice of Ontario's hospitality industry, is Canada's largest provincial hospitality association representing 4,000 members and over 11,000 establishments. IN: ECONOMY, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD, POLITICS, TRAVEL

Contact Information

  • Rob Evans, President & CEO, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
    Primary Phone: 905-361-0268 ext. 320
    Toll-Free: 800-668-8906
    E-mail: revans@orhma.com