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Group says policy changes would boost Cdn travel and tourism

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Would you be more likely to take a trip to another part of Canada if travel taxes were lower?

A group that looks at tourism and travel globally says the government needs to do more to cash in on the industry’s potential.

The World Travel and Tourism Council argues certain policies are making it tough for visitors to get here. President and CEO David Scowsill says travel taxes and visa policies are among them.

He says travel and tourism is expected to grow by around four per cent in 2014, but the industry is basically static in terms of people coming here.

“The statistics we look at show about 10 years ago, around 20 million people would come to Canada every year, for both business and leisure; that number has dropped to around 16 million.”

One of the biggest changes Scowsill recommends is a freeze or reduction of some tourism taxes “because the taxation levels are pretty high compared with other destinations at the moment and that makes it very expensive to travel both to Canada and within Canada.”

The Council adds domestic tourism accounts for two thirds of Canada’s travel and tourism economy. It says lower prices would be a positive, adding taxes tack on a lot to the price of travelling to and within the country.

Scowsill says measures like a plan to introduce e-visas next year are a step in the right direction, and advocates the visa process continuing to be simplified and sped up to make it easier for people to visit.

He also recommends the government look at providing incentives for investors to develop new services and products for tourists.

Scowsill adds tourism and travel provides 4.5 per cent of GDP to Canada’s economy.

The global industry contributes 9.5 per cent to the world economy.