Question re: Tourism marketing funding - December 10, 2013

Hansard, December 10, 2013

Mr. Silver:  In February 2011, the Government of Yukon announced a funding arrangement agreement with Government of Canada for overseeing tourism marketing. Unfortunately, that funding agreement runs out in March of next year.

There has been no word from this government on whether the funding will be renewed or how it will be replaced if it isn’t. That is half a million dollars a year from Ottawa that is coming to an end. The Government of Yukon is putting together next year’s budget right now.

Can the minister confirm that funding does end in March and what options is the government pursuing to replace this funding?

Hon. Mr. Nixon:         I thank the member opposite for his question. This has definitely been something that has been on my radar for the past number of months. There was a four-year agreement with the Government of Canada through CanNor to be allocated for overseas marketing. That was time-sensitive, so that fund does run out in March of 2014.

We are currently working with our MP, Ryan Leef, and our senator — as well as the minister responsible for CanNor and for Tourism and Culture — to see how we mitigate this issue and continue to put pressure on the overseas markets that Yukon has reached out to for marketing. We’ve definitely seen some great success from this $590,000 that was provided through CanNor and we certainly hope to continue working with the federal government on that relationship.

Mr. Silver:   If this funding is not extended or replaced, it will leave a major hole in our overseas marketing budget. The minister’s recent trip to England or to Germany would have been a good place to announce how government intends to proceed with overseas marketing. There was no announcement and the industry continues to dangle while the government figures out a way to address this $590,000 shortfall in next year’s marketing budget.

The minister recently told this House that he was in communication with Canada about the future of this program and he reiterated that on the floor today. He also said that Ottawa has yet to announce funding beyond the end of March 2014 under this program. Members of our tourism industry are not really interested in Ottawa’s deadlines per se. They want to know if the government will be cutting our overseas marketing. What assurances can the minister give the tourism industry that the budget for overseas marketing will not be cut while the government and the Government of Canada send back correspondence?

Hon. Mr. Nixon:         As I have indicated on the floor of this Legislature previously, the primary target markets for the overseas marketing project are Germany and Switzerland. Secondary markets are the U.K., Australia and Japan and there are emerging markets that are identified, such as France, Netherlands, South Korea and China.

We have seen great success with the overseas marketing initiative in relationship with the Government of Canada. We just have to look at the increasing tourism numbers within the territory. Yukon hosted over 320,000 visitors from around the world — 34,000 of those were indeed overseas visitors. I’ve spoken before on the floor of this Legislature that tourism generates over $200 million in revenue each year for Yukon businesses. That’s something that this government can stand behind.

The Japanese market increased significantly. Perhaps as a result of this important marketing that we are working on, more than 3,500 Japanese visitors experienced Yukon last year. We hope those numbers continue to increase. Germany continues to be the Yukon’s largest overseas market with approximately 26 percent of the overseas visitation. This is something that is very important.

Mr. Silver:   I do appreciate the minister’s answers. The Yukon has seen success in Europe, and Germany particularly. I am pleased to see that we have some good results. One of the reasons for these numbers is the increased marketing that has taken place in recent years. That marketing will be severely curtailed if the Government of Canada blows a half-a-million-dollar hole in that budget.

Can the minister assure the tourism industry that the overseas marketing budget for next year will not be reduced?

Hon. Mr. Nixon:         Another point that I really need to make is about some of the cooperative marketing initiatives that the member opposite had indicated when we were overseas — that we indeed worked on. The Department of Tourism and Culture utilizes these agreements and marketing initiatives as a strategic tool to significantly increase the global market reach and its impact.

These cooperative marketing initiatives focus on projects where partners matched Tourism Yukon’s budget. This approach doubles our marketing investment in those regions. Through the cooperative marketing, the Yukon government leverages approximately $1.8 million each year from marketing partners and stakeholders. So that just shows the importance of the relationship with the overseas markets and the continued relationship with the Government of Canada, specifically CanNor, in working to extend or renew or continue to provide overseas marketing money.