Government of Canada’s new federal tourism strategy empowers communities across the country to create jobs for the middle class


May 21, 2019—Ottawa, Ontario


Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy will unleash the potential of tourism to drive economic growth and job creation year-round in all regions of the country through three pillars. The Strategy is founded on the recognition that every community has experiences to offer and can aspire to be a destination in its own right.

Pillar 1—Building Tourism in Canada’s Communities

Both 2017 and 2018 were record years for tourism in Canada. The sector now supports more than 1.8 million jobs in communities large and small, and the Government of Canada is committed to providing support to continue its growth. As a result, the Government created the Canadian Experiences Fund (CEF), a $58.5-million initiative that will help communities create, improve or enhance tourism products, facilities and experiences.

Delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDA), the Fund will see investments made in products and experiences that showcase Canada’s strengths, while also growing tourism beyond major cities and the summer season.

Projects will receive up to 100% of eligible costs.

The window for application will remain opened until funding runs out.

Categories and criteria

Investments made through the CEF will focus on five categories:

  • expanding winter and shoulder-season tourism by funding projects such as onsite experiences development, tours, excursions, special events and tourism facilities;
  • growing tourism in rural and remote communities by investing in projects such as community beautification, onsite experiences development in various locations (e.g. fisheries, wineries, breweries, farms), adventure tourism, ecotourism, agritourism, local product development, and local tourism facilities;
  • increasing Indigenous tourism by investing in projects such as market readiness activities, onsite experiences development, the development of a line of consumer products, tours, festivals and special events;
  • promoting inclusiveness, especially for the LGBTQ2 community, by supporting train-the-trainer programs and projects such as attractions, special events, festivals and market readiness activities; and
  • boosting culinary and farm-to-table experiences by funding projects in areas such as culinary tourism trails, farmers markets and onsite experiences development in various locations (e.g. farms, fisheries, breweries, orchards). 

Project proposals that also meet asset criteria may be given preference. These criteria pertain to skills development, job creation, and economic and environmental sustainability.

Pillar 2—Attracting Investment to the Visitor Economy

All levels of government have a role to play in tourism, but a lack of coordination among them means governments are not having as big of an impact on the sector as they could. To improve coordination among governments and help attract private investment in the sector, the Strategy will establish tourism investment groups in every region of Canada to enable the development of impactful tourism projects, including large-scale destination projects.

Co-led by Destination Canada and the RDAs, the groups will be adapted to each region. RDAs will leverage their existing partnerships to ensure a concerted effort, based on each region’s needs.

These groups will provide a hook to entice private sector investment, both domestically and internationally, in big, ambitious tourism projects.

Other participants will include Parks Canada, Canadian Heritage and the Business Development Bank of Canada, as well as new federal partners such as the Export Development Bank and Invest in Canada.

The federal government will work through the tourism investment groups to become a more effective partner to each of the regions, enabling promising products to be developed while ensuring the alignment of investments. The groups will have a global market perspective, an understanding of the intragovernmental environment, a shared knowledge base and the capacity to harmonize priorities across organizations. Their objective will be to ensure a consistent approach to developing destinations regionally that enhances local community opportunities. 

Pillar 3—A Renewed Focus on Public-Private Collaboration

Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy recognizes the long-standing barriers to growing Canada’s tourism sector—barriers that are not easily overcome in the short term. Stronger partnership with industry leaders is needed to tackle those challenges over the long term. For this reason, the Government has established the Tourism Industry Economic Strategy Table.

In Budget 2017, the Minister of Finance announced a new model for industry-government collaboration, focused on turning Canadian economic strengths into global advantages through the creation of Economic Strategy Tables. They represented a new approach to development in high-growth and high-potential sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health and biosciences, and resources of the future.  Each Table was composed of industry leaders, including top CEOs, who set ambitious growth targets, identified sector-specific challenges and bottlenecks, and laid out an actionable roadmap for making the country an innovation leader in these sectors. 

Budget 2019 formally recognized tourism as a high-growth, high-potential sector deserving its own Economic Strategy Table. As part of the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, the new Table was launched in the spring of 2019. It provides a unique platform for targeted actions to stimulate and sustain growth in Canada’s tourism sector. Government working collaboratively with industry in this way will ensure that tourism is on the front lines of economic policy-making so that challenges are effectively addressed and strategic opportunities are seized to grow the visitor economy and create good jobs for the middle class.

Critical areas the Table could address include the high cost of travelling to and within Canada, labour shortages in the sector and deepening investment. It could also look at competiveness, sustainability, the sharing economy and digital platforms. 

Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy sets out an all-of-government approach to grow Canada’s visitor economy.  It recognizes that international tourism is a vital contributor to the country’s prosperity, and it is premised on tourism’s capacity for rapid expansion — providing governments mobilize the right policies and investments, and private sector partners are ready to capitalize on the opportunities. Many government departments champion policies that support tourism growth.

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