Minister Joly's address to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal


Speaking Points

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, PC, MP
Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Montréal, Quebec
December 11, 2018

Check Against Delivery

Hello everyone:

It is a pleasure to be here with you today.

Thank you, Michel [Leblanc, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal] for that kind introduction.

I would like to begin by pointing out that we are gathered today on traditional Mohawk lands.

I would like to sincerely thank the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal for welcoming us here today.

I should also mention the many key stakeholders in our industry who are present today:

  • Caroline Proulx, Quebec’s Minister of Tourism and Member for Berthier
  • Raymond Bachand, Liza Frulla and Claudine Roy, three members of the Advisory Council on Jobs and the Visitor Economy
  • Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail Canada
  • François Dumontier, President and CEO of Grand Prix du Canada
  • Mélanie Dunn, President and CEO of Cossette
  • Jacques-André Dupont, President and CEO of Équipe Spectra
  • Yan Hamel, President and CEO of Croisières AML
  • Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal
  • Martin Soucy, President and CEO of the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec
  • Philippe Sureau, Co-Founder of Transat AT Inc.
  • Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority
  • Louis-Philippe Maurice, Co-Founder and CEO of Busbud
  • Ève Paré, President and CEO of the Association des hôtels du Grand Montréal

We are here today because we all believe in the economic potential of the tourism industry.

Most of you know better than anyone else the significant impact that tourism can have on our cities and our communities.

Today, we’re going to be talking about the success and potential of the tourism industry in Quebec, and the importance of pushing our limits.

Claudine Roy is passionate about her region and saw potential where others did not.

In 2003, she launched the first edition of Grandes Traversées de la Gaspésie, a week-long, all-inclusive sport vacation offering cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking through the captivating landscapes of the beautiful Gaspé region.

Today, Traversées is known worldwide; it helps extend the tourist season and is the pride of Gaspesians and Quebecers.

It is through projects such as this one that we can come out on top and successfully turn Canada into a tourist destination of choice.

Tourism is doing well—very well indeed.

Last year was a historic one for Montréal.

More than 11 million visitors came to this city, spending $4 billion.

That’s a lot of money—money that helps create good jobs for middle-class families and, more specifically, for our young people.

And for those of you who think that this success was only due to the Canada 150 celebrations, you should know that 2018 has been even more exceptional.

Montréal has beat the previous year’s records, and we are already in a good position to surpass our annual results. 

And the rest of Canada is also feeling that success.

From St. John’s to Victoria and from Yellowknife to Québec and Winnipeg, we received a record number of overseas visitors in 2017—almost 21 million people.

We have always known that tourism could transform our communities.

We also know that tourism transforms the global economy.

According to some studies, the sector generates economic benefits of almost $8 trillion worldwide.

And it is growing at a breakneck pace of 4% per year.

What we wanted to know was how?

How can Canada get its fair share of this flourishing global market?

What impacts could tourism have on our economy if we successfully developed its full potential?

It was with these questions in mind that Destination Canada assigned McKinsey and Company the task of carrying out in-depth research into the tourism economy.


Because tourism was identified by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth in Canada as being one of the eight key sectors where Canada had the potential for significant economic growth.

We now have hard data that gives us an idea of the scope of opportunities available to us.

This information will guide us as we continue to set even higher goals.

Today, I would like to share some of the key items from this report with you.

But before I do that, I want to highlight the importance of the tourism industry to the Canadian economy.

Tourism accounts for 2% of Canada’s gross domestic product.

One in ten Canadian jobs is associated with this sector.

This represents 1.8 million people across all of Canada’s rural and urban regions, and 375,000 people in Quebec.

Some 10% of our workforce is employed in the tourism industry. That’s huge!

And there’s more good news.

This year, we are on track to beat the record we set last year.

In the first half of 2018, tourism activities generated revenues of more than $18 billion in our economy.

This is a significant increase from the same period last year.

Tourism is also the largest service export industry, generating more than $21 billion in 2017, or nearly 20% of all revenue from service exports.

All of this seems great, so you’re probably wondering why we need to do more.

The truth is that despite these records, Canada is falling behind.

While our local industry is growing, our share of the global market is shrinking.

In fact, Canada used to be one of the 10 most popular destinations in the world.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, we dropped to 18th place.

My mission is to reverse that trend.

I want to give our people the opportunity to succeed in this industry once again.

Since 2000, the tourism sector has been expanding 1.5 times faster than gross world product.

Frankly, we want our fair share of that pie.

And that’s why we need your help.

McKinsey’s analysis shows that Canada can grow its tourism sector much faster than the rest of the world—up to 6.4% per year through 2030.

If we get it right, we could add up to $25 billion per year from tourism export growth.

That translates into 110,000 to 180,000 jobs across the country.

Together let’s create the conditions for our success.

Because the cost of doing nothing would be disastrous.

About 180,000 jobs and $25 billion per year in economic benefits are on the line.

In order to profit from the enormous opportunities provided by the global increase in the tourism sector, we need three things:

  • good economic conditions,
  • good political decisions from all levels of government, and
  • concrete actions taken by the business community.

But first, I would like to issue a challenge.

I want us to start to take this industry seriously.

For too long, this industry has been taken for granted, even snubbed by some political elites.

Perhaps it’s because, among other things, tourism relies on people who work in the shadows.

Just think about the people who welcome you to your hotel when you travel.

How many of you have ever taken the time to ask the name of the person serving you dinner?

It is for workers like Nicholas that we are gathered here today.

It is for them that we should take these opportunities and develop a federal tourism strategy.

To give them confidence in their future and so that they can be proud of what they do.

They are the ones who drive our economy and make the tourism industry come alive.

I think that they deserve a round of applause.

And to take advantage of these golden opportunities, we need to ensure that Nicholas has everything he needs to thrive.

This conviction is the guiding force behind all of our government’s actions:

  • the middle-class tax cut,
  • the Canada Child Benefit,
  • improvements to the Canada Pension Plan, and
  • record investments in students and seniors.

All of these decisions were made because we believe in the potential of Canadians to make a difference.

We also believe that when we have to make a decision, we need to rely on facts.

So, when the Prime Minister asked me to develop a new federal tourism strategy, I immediately knew that I had to start with the facts . . . and seek the help of experts.

That’s why, last month, I launched the Advisory Council on Jobs and the Visitor Economy.

The 13-member council is chaired by Frank McKenna, Canada’s former ambassador to the United States and the former premier of New Brunswick. He played a key role in his province’s tourism sector.

This incredibly accomplished group of people will provide invaluable advice as we build this new tourism strategy—a plan that will map out the steps required to claim our fair share of tourism’s potential.

I look forward to sharing that strategy in the coming months.

But remember, the council is but one important voice among the thousands of Canadians contributing to this strategy.

I am also working with other groups, such as:

  • industry associations, including our friends at the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada;
  • LGBTQ2 groups;
  • organizers of major events and festivals; and
  • communities from coast to coast to coast.

But we also need you—people in the business community in Montréal, Quebec and Canada—to weigh in with your views.

Because if we don’t work together to unlock the full potential of this sector, we will be missing out on an enormous opportunity.

We would be leaving 180,000 new jobs on the table.

And we can’t let that happen.

Countries such as Australia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand and Spain have all taken action to benefit from this growth, and their results are impressive.

I know that we can do the same.

Tourism isn’t just about leisure.

It’s also about business and about great opportunities for the middle class in all communities, rural and urban.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Thank you.

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