Canadian air transport and tourism need to get competitive


IATA has called on the Canadian government to improve the country’s global competitiveness in air transport, travel and tourism by working with industry to address issues of taxation and regulation, security and the environment.

IATA’s director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani said: “Air transport is key to Canada’s economy. Canada is a great place to visit and to do business, but the country is losing its competitive edge. Canada needs a comprehensive strategy to keep it competitive in the world market.” IATA’s boss made his comments during a speech to Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

He pointed out that Canada has fallen from the eighth most visited country in the world in 2002 to the 15th in 2009. The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report ranks Canada at 106 in terms of cost competitiveness, behind Japan (86), the United Arab Emirates (50), India (46) and China (20).

Said Bisignani: “Aviation is the engine for tourism, which accounted for 650,000 Canadian jobs and $71 billion in spending in 2009. But instead of having policies to welcome more visitors, Canada’s excessive taxes turn them away. Compared to the United States, a visit to Canada is $160 more expensive.”

And IATA’s CEO pointed to Canada’s system of Crown rents as one of the root causes of weak cost competitiveness. “Canada has good airports, but the $257 million annual Crown rent bill is an unnecessary competitive disadvantage. No other country in the world has such a system. It discourages visitors and encourages Canadians to start their air travels from the United States. It’s time to abolish it,” Bisignani said.