Minister Joly’s address to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto


Speaking Points

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

Toronto, Ontario
December 10, 2018

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, everyone.

It’s great to be here with you today.

Thank you, Meaghan [Meaghan Daly, President and Founder, Forward Vision Games], for that kind introduction.

I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to the Economic Club of Canada for hosting today’s event.

And I want to thank everyone for joining us at such an early hour.

As I look around the room, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our many friends and to some familiar faces:

  • Frank McKenna and some of the members of our advisory council [Advisory Council on Jobs and the Visitor Economy]—great to see you.
  • Ben Cowan-Dewar, Chair of Destination Canada.
  • Representatives from the tourism industry—thank you for being here today.
  • John Knubley, Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada—thank you for your support, John.
  • Guylaine Roy, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. 

And, of course, I am also joined by Dominic Barton.

He is Global Managing Partner Emeritus of McKinsey & Company.

Mr. Barton graciously agreed to speak today about Canada’s tourism potential.

But first, I’d like to make the case for why tourism is such an important industry to our government.

Our government believes in the economic potential of the tourism sector, which is why I’m here with you today.

Many of you know better than anyone the positive impact tourism has on our cities and communities.

Let me give you an example: Inverness, Cape Breton.

The town was devastated when the coal mine closed. People lost their jobs.

Ben Cowan-Dewar was in his 20s when he arrived. He saw possibility when others saw loss.

Ben opened two world-class golf resorts that now employ hundreds of people.

This happened in a town with less than 1,500 residents.

Imagine how much those jobs mean to the people in that community.

We know that tourism can transform communities and neighbourhoods for the better.

We know that tourism is also transforming the global economy.

By some estimates, the industry contributes up to $8 trillion to the global economy.

And it is consistently growing by more than 4% a year.

What we wanted to understand is why.

What impact could tourism have on our economy if we unlocked its full potential?

And what do we need to do to capture our fair share of this massive global market?

Those questions led Destination Canada to commission research on our visitor economy.

It turned to Dominic Barton and McKinsey & Company for that analysis.

Why? Because Mr. Barton identified tourism as one of eight key sectors where Canada has significant growth potential.

He came to that conclusion after serving as chair of the Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth.

So Destination Canada asked Mr. Barton and McKinsey to take a deeper dive into the potential of tourism and to come up with the hard data that reveals the scale of the opportunity.

Their research will guide us as we try to punch above our weight.

Today, we are here to review their findings.

Mr. Barton will take us through a summary of those results in a few moments.

But first, let me share some of my takeaways.

Tourism accounts for 2% of our GDP.

One in ten jobs in Canada is related to the tourism industry.

That’s about 1.8 million jobs in rural and urban regions across the country.

Imagine that: 10% of our entire workforce!

There’s more good news.

Last year, we had a record number of international visitors come to Canada—more than 20.8 million people.

We are on track to beat that record this year.

In the first half of 2018, tourism activities directly accounted for more than $18 billion of Canada’s GDP.

That is up significantly over the same period the year before.

This industry represents Canada’s largest service export.

It was worth more than $21 billion in 2017.

And it makes up 19% of our total service export revenues.

Sounds great! What could possibly be wrong?

The truth is we are falling behind.

While our numbers are growing, our share of the global market is actually shrinking.

Canada used to be one of the top 10 destinations in the world.

Over the last decade we’ve fallen to 18th. 

My mission is to reverse that trend.

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

It’s important to capitalize on this global sector and take full advantage of its potential for our people.

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

That trend is expected to continue into the mid-2020s.

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.

That’s the cost of doing nothing, my friends: 180,000 jobs.

Together, let’s create the conditions for our success.

If we want to tap into our tourism potential and put ourselves on a path to create these hundreds of thousands of jobs, we need three things:

  • the right conditions,
  • the right choices by all levels of government, and
  • the right actions by the business community.

But first, I want to challenge us to make a choice.

Let’s choose to take the travel and tourism industry seriously.

For too long this sector has been taken for granted.

It’s even been snubbed.

That’s because, unfortunately, we depend on service jobs every day—jobs that are often invisible.

Think about the hotel staff who make sure we have a home away from home.

Or consider the people around us this morning.

How many of us here took a moment to learn the names of those serving our coffee?

I’m thinking of Robin who brought me a cup of peppermint tea the other day.

Such a small gesture, but it made my day.

The point is that the people in these jobs often operate under our radar.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that we have so much to gain if we support the people who are working hard every day to welcome the world to Canada.

Can we have a round of applause for them?

They are part of the visitor experience.

They drive our economy forward.

So if we want to take advantage of the huge opportunities presented by the global growth in tourism, we must make sure our people have what they need to realize their own potential.

That belief is a guiding force for 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 those decisions were made because our government believes in the power and promise of our people to make a difference.

We also believe in evidence-based decision making.

And so when the Prime Minister asked me to develop a new federal tourism strategy, I knew I needed to start with evidence—and with expertise.

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

Mr. Barton, I’m so pleased that you are an honorary member of the council.

This incredibly accomplished group of people will provide invaluable advice as we build the 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 Advisory Council is but one important voice among the thousands of Canadians contributing to this strategy.

I am also consulting with other groups:

  • industry associations, including our friends at 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.

And we also need you—Canada’s business community—to weigh in with your views. 

Because if we don’t work together to unlock the potential of this sector, we’re going to miss out on a massive opportunity.

We would leave up to 180,000 jobs on the table.

We cannot afford to do that.

Countries such as Australia, Iceland, Japan and New Zealand are taking advantage of this growth, and the results are stunning.

I know we can do the same.

Tourism isn’t just about leisure.

This is about big business and about even bigger opportunities to grow the middle class in communities large and small.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work—together.

Thank you.

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