LOS ANGELES -- Canada is trying to forge a tighter partnership with
U.S. travel agents, according to Judd Buchanan, chairman of the
Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC).
"They used to see Canada as primarily a border-drive vacation,
which meant that our major focus was on the northern states,"
Buchanan told reporters here. "But with the opening of the skies
between the U.S. and Canada, whole new markets have developed in
the central and southern states, as well," he said.
Buchanan, a former member of the Canadian Parliament and a
former cabinet minister, said it now is possible to fly nonstop to
Toronto, Canada's largest city, from 41 U.S. gateways. And he noted
that other destinations, such as Calgary and Vancouver, are linked
with the U.S. by nonstop services.
"This convenience has been a big factor in the growth of air
travel to Canada," he said. "Whereas it used to represent a
relatively small part of our business, about 30% of all our U.S.
visitors now arrive by plane."
The CTC's regional offices in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and
Washington traditionally have published and distributed their own
newsletters to agents. Now, however, Buchanan said, a single,
centrally produced publication containing more package, air and
general travel information will be used. And, in the last six
months, the organization established a 12-member agent advisory
board that will meet quarterly.
Canada, according to Buchanan, welcomed more than 13.3 million
overnight visitors from the U.S. in 1997, making it the second-best
year after 1986. He said the figures represented a 3.5% growth in
road traffic and a 5.5% increase in arrivals by air.
The CTC was formed at the request of Prime Minister Jean
Chretien three years ago with a commitment of $35 million in
federal funds. He challenged the private sector to match that sum
annually within three years; it exceeded in two, contributing
nearly $49 million. Chretien raised the government's pledge to $45
million and, Buchanan said, with the industry's help, he expected
the organization to be funded with at least $105 million this
He added that in 1998 the CTC would direct $35 million at the
U.S. market; just four years ago, Canada spent $3.5 million on
tourism promotion in this country.