Canada – an admirable example of how to engage youth tourism

November 8th, 2017 | | industry

Canada is actively growing youth tourism and so looking towards a bright future. Australia has strong historial, economic and geograghical similarities to Canada but has differed in the path it has chosen for youth tourism in recent years.

Canada and Australia have been linked in the world’s minds for more than a century. Afterall both are geographically sprawling and have relatively small populations. They are also naturally resource rich, both in mining and in ‘big country’ tourism assets. This has helped them to become two of the richest nations in the world (on a per capita basis).

Also both are former British colonies, they share a common language (not forgetting French in Canada too of course) and consequently they both benefit from English being the global language for business.

Canada and Australia are both attractive destinations for study (including language learning) and/or work experience. Both have world-class educational institutions, strong international student programs and active working holiday programs. Australia has more international students and a larger working holiday maker program, so some would suggest it is the more successful. However Canada, like other destinations, has been learning fast and are clearly catching up.

Canada’s educational institutions and their local economies recognise the significant value of international students. For example, the economic contribution of 265,377 ‘long-term’ international students is C$32,000 per student per year. Consequently, Canada’s goal, established in 2012, is to attract more than 450,000 international students by the year 2020. A doubling of the number of international students hosted in 2011.

This projection of 450,000 international students will help to:
• create 86,500 net new jobs
• raise international student expenditure in the country to more than C$16 billion
• boost the Canadian economy by C$10 billion
• generate C$910 million in new tax revenues.

To achieve this Canada’s international education strategy prioritizes key emerging economies with young demographics and aims to attract their international students. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Vietnam and countries of North Africa and the Middle East have been identified and Canada will align them with a broader international trade strategy.

For Canada also knows how to attract mainstream tourists, in these markets they are actually much larger than Australia, this is not surprising given their close proximity to the major tourism markets of USA and the European Union. In total Canada attracted 20 million international arrivals in 2016 (Australia attracted 8.7 million to June 2017). Canada has also listed tourism and international education as two of its 22 priority sectors that represent opportunities in the global marketplace.

When it comes to youth tourism, Canada has certainly realised their economic value (this is born out by the far lower working holiday visa fee – Canada C$226 v Australia A$440), for we all know this sector stay longer and spend more than the average tourist, attract friends and family as visitors to a destination, and represent potential return visitors later in life.

Alternatively, visits by working holiday makers have actually been falling here since 2012/13 (by some 40,000). Tourism Australia was allocated $10 million over three years to promote Australia to potential working holiday makers through a targeted global youth campaign, this campaign was launched in October 2016 and is still active. However, we all know this does come off the back of a new 15% ‘backpacker tax’. It will be interesting to see how much is collected (in tax revenue) from this sector in the next three years.

What is setting Canada apart on the international youth tourism stage is its clear and strategic approach to harnessing the power of global youth tourism. Australia, and others could learn alot from their example. A more cohesive all of government approach would be a good place to start.

What do you think? Have your say.

Written by Chris Harrison

Note: the writer would like to thank WYSE Travel Conderation for the opportunity to investigate, travel to and learn more about Canadian youth tourism. He travelled to Montreal for WYSTC 2018.

Sources: WYSE Travel Confederation Research and CIC