is the question being asked in this latest study by Deloitte and the industry. My personal answer is: “not enough”!. Here’s some anecdotal evidence to support this.
I just returned from a week’s stay in Canada, Mont Ste-Anne de Beaupre on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river in Quebec specifically. Three friends and I spent a week playing golf, relaxing and visiting Quebec City as part of an annual tradition of exchanging a timeshare week somewhere within two day’s driving distance from my home in southwestern Connecticut.
Having previously lived in Toronto, it was natural for me to include Canada in my choice of possible destinations. My American friends, however, despite living in Vermont, never thought of going north of the border for this type of stay. Their natural inclination was to head in the opposite direction and they were very pleasantly surprised at the attractiveness of the place. The atmosphere was decidedly different, especially in Quebec City, a great city with a distinct French flavor and architecture in its well preserved old town. The quality of food and service at our three star resort restaurant was better too than in similar places in the U.S.
The challenges Canada’s tourism industry faces – and obviously the stronger the Canadian dollar is the bigger they get – are well described in this study and in my opinion it is a permanent struggle to attract Americans who are so strongly focused on staying within the country or if they do travel abroad at all, go to Europe to see what’s different.
Canada should stress the differences rather than the similarities to raise curiosity among Americans and give them reasons to choose their northern neighbor rather than staying at home. This should start with stressing experience based themes and stories rather than geography and not presenting the country on its website by regions and provinces first. Visitors aren’t actually interested in that, it’s the “inside looking out”, instead of “outside looking in” or customer-centric approach to destination marketing. Tell people the story of your place and its people and how different that is from anywhere else.