Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame Luncheon
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP
Minister of Small Business and Tourism
December 2, 2015
Check Against Delivery
Good afternoon, everyone.
I'd like to thank Charlotte Bell and the rest of the team at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada [TIAC] for inviting me to join you today. I know you all have worked very hard to put together this event. Thank you.
I think I'm the only thing standing between you and lunch, so I'll be brief.
When Prime Minister Trudeau asked me to be the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, I was honoured to take on the challenge.
I'm eager to work in partnership with all of you as we grow Canada's visitor economy. Whether it is rural Canadians, women, youth or Indigenous peoples, one thing I'm big on is collaboration. I've always been a proponent of community engagement, and you have my word that I will lean on groups like TIAC in the weeks and months ahead.
I am also committed to working with my provincial, territorial and municipal counterparts.
I want to get everyone involved. I want to hear about best practices. And I want to encourage a sense of ownership.
That's the beauty of the tourism industry. From ecotourism, sport and Aboriginal tourism to any other of the many niche opportunities, tourism is part of every Canadian community. It touches all of us.
I am not going to pretend challenges don't exist. They do. But I can promise you that I am not afraid of the hard decisions. And I am about results, not words.
Fortunately, the building blocks are in place.
Revenues, GDP and employment all experienced growth last year. And your industry accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs in Canada, nearly 628,000 to be exact.
So that's why we must all come together to champion the Canadian brand and attract travellers from around the world.
This is my mandate from Prime Minister Trudeau. But rest assured, it is a floor, not a ceiling. I want to go beyond that. I want to truly understand your interests and needs.
Without a doubt, one thing we are all interested in is how to attract more American visitors. In support of that goal, Destination Canada will continue its $30‑million Connecting America marketing campaign.
And beyond the U.S., Destination Canada will carry on its efforts in other international markets too.
One of those target markets is Mexico. On that file, I can tell you that our immigration minister, John McCallum, is committed to implementing temporary resident visa‑free travel to Canada for Mexicans.
So some good news there.
Another way I hope to help you strengthen Canadian tourism is by making life easier for the tens of thousands of small businesses that form the backbone of this industry.
We will do that by reducing the administrative burden on SMEs. As you may know, our government has already announced its intention to lower the small business tax rate. This will help owners expand their operations and create jobs.
We will also be putting into place other programs to support companies' growth within and beyond our borders.
Finally, I will support Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, in promoting Canada's national parks.
Our national parks are a cornerstone of Canada's tourism offerings. They attract visitors to Canada, and they provide Canadians with access to our world‑renowned natural heritage.
So lots to do.
Looking forward, I'll be co‑chairing my first Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers' meeting next month. It will be held in Winnipeg and co‑chaired by my provincial counterpart, Ron Lemieux.
It will give me a chance to meet with all of my provincial and territorial peers for the first time, with a view to advancing tourism priorities. Your priorities. I can't wait to roll my sleeves up and get to work.
In closing, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I'd like to thank everyone we are honouring today. You are shining examples of what this industry has to offer.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, I look forward to partnering with all of you to maintain tourism's essential place in our economy.
So 2016 promises to be a dynamic year for tourism in Canada, and I look forward to being part of it.
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