Thank you, Mr. Chair, vice-chairs and members of the committee.
My name is David Goldstein and I am the President and CEO of Destination Canada. I am joined by my colleagues Ms. Sidhu and Mr. Verret to answer your questions.
We are very pleased to be here and take part in your review of the activities under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. These are exciting times for the industry and for Destination Canada.
Today we'd like to provide you some background on our organization to give you a taste of two of our key upcoming initiatives.
As you are aware, our authority flows from the Canadian Tourism Commission Act of 2000, and our raison d'être is twofold. The first is to work with the industry, provinces, and Canadian destinations to create campaigns that stimulate demand and inspire international business and leisure travellers to choose Canada. The second is to provide business-to-business connections between Canadian entrepreneurs and international buyers in a very competitive global environment.
Based in Vancouver and operating in 12 global markets, we build on our parliamentary A-base of $58 million a year, with an additional $30 million over the next three years to relaunch our U.S. leisure market program. In turn, we stimulate a one-to-one co-investment from our partners for every federal dollar. To that end, we support Canada's $88-billion tourism sector, which generates over $17 billion in annual foreign exchange receipts for the Canadian economy.
We strive to be at the cutting edge of digital marketing and work to inspire a Team Canada collaborative approach, including our recent memorandum of understanding with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada to help them bring their Canadian aboriginal tourism product to the international stage.
This collaboration with our department, ISED, runs across the federal family, including but not limited to Parks Canada, Immigration, Global Affairs, and the regional development agencies.
Tourism is Canada's number one services export sector. It stimulates economic diversification and creates businesses and jobs in every region of the country. It may be of interest to members of the committee that one in 11 jobs in this country depends on tourism, while the industry itself directly generates 650,000 jobs and is the largest employer of Canadians under 35.
The good news is that Canada is back. In 2015, for the first time in a decade, Canada surpassed the UNWTO global average for visitation growth. In 2015, global growth was up 4.5%, while Canada was up 7.5%, almost double the international average.
Ladies and gentlemen, our projections for 2016 and beyond continue to be strong. We will achieve these through our global programs, two of which we'd like to highlight for you today.
Next month, we will be launching Connecting America, our cutting-edge digital media campaign for the U.S. I was pleased to report at the recent federal-provincial-territorial tourism conference that we have full engagement from all 13 provinces and territories, demonstrating the power of a Team Canada approach to the U.S. market. Just to be clear, Connecting America is not a short-term opportunistic play to capitalize on the exchange rate. Our strategy is designed to better integrate our marketing efforts to deliver a deeper and longer lasting impact in our largest tourism market.
We have prepared the following video that helps illustrate a bit of the framework for the campaign we'll be launching in April.
Normally at Destination Canada we don't run domestic campaigns, but Canada's 150th anniversary provides us with a unique opportunity to inspire millennials—Canadians from 18 to 34—to connect with and explore their country. This is a demographic that we know loves to travel but is eight times more likely to travel abroad than to travel within Canada.
To inspire millennials to discover what their own country has to offer, we are launching this 12-month high-energy campaign in conjunction with Bell Media and their highly valued media services like MuchMusic and MusiquePlus.
The next video will help you get a sense of that excitement.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, Vice-Chairs, and members of the committee, it's interesting that in July 2015, the Reputation Institute, an important international organization, named Canada the top destination in their Global RepTrak survey. Canada often consistently ranks first or second when it comes to its reputation around the world as a tourism destination, but stubbornly we are 17th when it comes to international arrivals. We believe this gap can be closed.
The Canada brand has never been stronger and together we are working to ensure that our world-class reputation is converted into a steady increase in arrivals and therefore business and economic gains for the country.
On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank you for this opportunity to present. I look forward to working with the committee in the future on any of its potential studies. We are pleased to answer your questions today.
Thank you very much.
Being International Women's Day, first of all let me acknowledge Sarah, followed by David and Gilles. Thank you very much for coming and sharing your vision of what you are planning to do for Canada and for us.
Let me start by saying that I had the opportunity to review the special examination opinion that was prepared, and I also got directed from there to the 2015-19 “Marketing in Canada in an Ever-Changing World”. I was hoping that 68-page document would be made available to us because I found it very interesting. I found it very comprehensive, and it addressed a lot of questions I wanted to ask.
Having said that, I have three questions to ask of the panel.
Question one is, since that report was put together in mid-2015, with the new mandate that the government, especially the Minister of Tourism, has given and has published, is there anything in that report that's going to change: any of the priorities, strategic directions, your initiatives, objectives, and key performance measures?
Question two has to do with the amount of appropriation, which I believe to be $70.5 million. It's been broken down by about $60.7 million for marketing and sales, $2.2 million for tourism research, and about $1 million for experimental product development. What activities will your organization be carrying on under these three programs, and are there any changes to these three programs?
Thank you for your questions. They are quite detailed. I will provide you with a cursory answer, but some of these deserve a more fulsome, detailed, written reply that we would be happy to furnish to the clerk to be distributed to the rest of the committee.
I wouldn't say our priorities have changed, but they have highlighted certain areas that are opportunities for us in a changing marketplace. For example, we were already on a course to find new ways to look at digital marketing in this age. We are looking at plans to get far more aggressive in that area.
You asked about KPIs and measurement. We're undergoing a re-evaluation right now. When you look at marketing campaigns, it has been a historic issue of trying to evaluate their ROI. We are looking at a whole series of issues in conjunction with Oxford Economics to look at how we're gauging the success of those campaigns.
As per the spending allotments that were within the estimates, I can go through the series of initiatives, but they include a fair amount of research. We're world-renowned for the research we do at Destination Canada.
Some of that expenditure is services we pay Statistics Canada. Some of the exploratory pieces are works we do to help build SMEs' capacity to get ready for marketplace.
We would be happy to supply a much more fulsome detailed answer to the questions to the clerk within, let's say, four business days if that's okay.
There are areas where we're probably more prominent in than we were a year ago. I would use aboriginal tourism as one of the initiatives. It's not that we weren't involved in aboriginal tourism. In fact, last year was the first time we did a full aboriginal tourism pavilion as part of our Rendez-vous Canada big trade show event. Obviously, this is an area where we see tremendous acceleration and feel the direction of the mandate letter gives us support to continue to do that. There are areas like that.
There's another issue. I wouldn't say it's a function of the new government or our transition, because we've gone through a transition as well, but we're working to be far more reflective of the country as a whole.
It's fair that this organization, without being unfair to my predecessors, had been a leader or expressed themselves as a leader and not as collaborative an organization as it once was. Where you find that very tangibly is in the partnership levels. Over a year ago the organization had a partnership ratio of 0.6:1, so that meant 60¢ of partnering dollars for every dollar that the federal government committed. This year we're going to be reporting a 1:1 ratio. Our level of collaboration is much higher, especially with our provincial counterparts, our local city destinations, and the industry itself.
I'm going to share my time with Mr. Bernier. Could you give me an indication when I have about two minutes remaining because I want to make sure I give him a couple of minutes.
I want to welcome my friends from Destination Canada. It's always good to see you and I have just a couple of questions for you today.
I was glad to hear, in your response to the last question, your discussion about the increase in terms of your ratio of partnership funding to 1:1 this year. Congratulations on that. That's something I know you were working very hard to accomplish and we're glad to see that. You mentioned that was in large part due to better collaboration with both provincial associations and local DMOs and others.
I wonder if you could just elaborate briefly on that for me in terms of some of the things you've done. And if you could, include in that the context of the connecting America funding that was in last year's budget under our government to increase funding for U.S. marketing at this very key time, I think, with the opportunities that exist there. We're obviously seeing great results from that, but I wonder if you could include in that context what you've been doing to try to better partner with some of the provincial and local associations.
Excellent, and that's great to hear.
If I'm putting you in a difficult spot, let me know. I mentioned connecting America, and obviously the opportunities that exist there with the dollar, and a number of other factors, including the connecting America marketing money and the job you're doing to market Canada to the U.S. I wonder what we can do to build upon that.
I know the Frontier Duty Free Association had the road trip proposal, for example, where they were looking at a rebate for those who are doing cross-border shopping when they're visiting from the U.S. That's one example of an idea that we can use to build upon some of the success we've seen through connecting America.
I wonder if you have any thoughts on what more could be done to build upon that success.
Thank you, Mr. Richards.
Mr. Goldstein, I would first like to congratulate you for managing the restructuring of the Canadian Tourism Commission, which is now called Destination Canada. You had to hold consultations with the industry across the country, not just with officials in Ottawa, to identify its interests. You have been doing so very well.
To me, the tourism industry is an export industry. This is especially true now that the value of the Canadian dollar is very low. You will be able to benefit greatly from this. It is a nice way of attracting tourists here, although it is unfortunate for Canadians who are less able to travel abroad. However, perhaps they will travel a little more within the country.
Let me congratulate you for the work that you have accomplished during the restructuring.
I would also like to take the opportunity to tell my colleagues that we have a motion to debate regarding the appearance of the Bombardier representatives. We want to ask them about the billions of dollars that they will be receiving and about the company's financial situation.
It is important for all the members of the committee and all the MPs to know why Bombardier needs $1.2 billion to be competitive and what type of assistance the company has requested from the Canadian government. I constantly hear the concerns of my constituents in Quebec about this issue. The workers and entrepreneurs of Beauce who pay their taxes hardly appreciate their taxes going to companies managed by millionaires. It is important that the committee look into this matter.
To wrap up, I would like us to discuss my motion, which reads as follows:
||That the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Economic Development of the House of Commons convenes the company Bombardier Inc. to enlighten the committee on its financial position and explains the reasons that led it to request a financial assistance to the Government of Canada.
I think it would be very important to have this debate as soon as possible, because as you know, the government wants to go ahead with $1 billion in grants to a corporation. We call that corporate welfare. I think it is important to be able to have this debate as soon as possible.
Mr. Chair, you can't actually call a vote. You can't force the vote on the motion. I was still speaking when it was taken over by Mr. Arseneault, which is okay, because I think you gave him the floor without my finishing what I was saying. We need to have some sort of decorum in this chamber.
When we're looking at this and if we're going to call this to a vote, and it sounds like there's been a request of some kind, I think it's important that we speak to it.
We're talking about a thousand jobs in downtown Toronto. We're talking about over 12,000 jobs altogether. We're talking about the livelihood of men and women in Quebec and Ontario who manufacture and who are suppliers for Bombardier who are being negatively affected by a decision to close an airport. This has thrust a company to a point where they're requesting a public bailout.
I think it's important that we have the company come to this committee and that we have members of the government come to this committee and substantiate the rationale for interfering with the marketplace. I look at the member for Spadina—Fort York who has given many speeches on the subject. I would like him to appear here and give us the economic and financial rationale for such a decision.
The Bombardier C Series, from what I understand from Bombardier, is much more environmentally friendly than the existing jets. It is a masterpiece of innovation. Its engines are not as loud in order to allow for airports in urban areas and for people to be able to go back and forth without disturbing those around.
I think this is an important matter that needs to be discussed. It's so important that it's being discussed today in the House of Commons. Why the committee, the task force, on our economy would not take this into consideration is incredibly blinding.
No, it's all good. I'm not blaming the trail. That's not the problem. I was lucky that I was well prepared with gear.
At any rate, they're good commercials.
One of the things I've had a concern with over the years is the movement of the CTC to Vancouver. At that time, it took place under David Emerson. I've always had a bit of a reservation about taking it out of the Ottawa region and putting it in another part of the country. I know that it was done in large part for the Olympics to promote international visitation, but what I've seen over the years—this is just my general impression—is the reduction of the connection to American visitation.
We saw our numbers go down. For example, I saw border towns like mine not really having much connection to the Canadian Tourism Commission. Our local tourism does dual destinations with the Detroit region. We alone have 40,000 vehicles and 10,000 trucks per day crossing the border. That's one third of the entire Canadian economy going to the United States every single day—that's around $1 billion—within two kilometres of the Detroit River, which is in my riding, with four different crossings. I don't see much of a footprint for the Canadian Tourism Commission there.
Further to that, I went through your guide. I see some really good information. It's good, but you mentioned going outside traditional regions, and when we look at it, we see that you still have Ontario represented by Ottawa in here. You have Banff for Alberta, you have the CN tower in two different pictures, you have Vancouver in here three times, and there are two pictures from Squamish that are identified. These are the iconic locations that we always see in commercials and so forth, and they are also in parts of your videos.
I'll turn it back to you to give some input. Some 80% of our population lives near the U.S. border. For areas on the border, such as my riding, many of the citizens actually vacation in the United States. We're not aware of some of the efforts that are taking place elsewhere. I've grown more aware of that as a parliamentarian. Our natural edge is to go towards the south, not just into Michigan and that area, but to Florida, to Arizona, and all these destinations, yet we don't see much of a CTC footprint or much education going on.
It's not just you. I can tell you that a number of times the Province of Ontario has left us entirely out of tourism initiatives, when we're the front door. In fact, as a city councillor I worked for years to try to get a sign welcoming people to Canada along our border. There's not even that. There's nothing when you come across Ambassador Bridge. I had a failed attempt to try to get a notation of “Welcome to Canada” and so forth. As well, there's not much on our tunnel. They actually closed our tourism office on Huron Church Road, where, again, you have 35,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day going by in one direction or another.
What are the things we can do to improve, not only to keep Canadians here, but to give them better options and to better educate them about the fact that they are in Canada so that they're not just south of the border all the time? What are the plans to actually increase visitation into border towns?
Thank you for your bifurcated question. They're related. Let me try. I have an answer for the Vancouver piece.
The answer to the second part of the question about what are we going to do in the U.S. is that it's going to roll out starting April 1. That is going to deeply involve many border communities. Many of them are going to be co-investing in this campaign with us.
It's hard for me to be a Monday-morning quarterback on the decision that took place four years ago for the Canadian Tourism Commission to leave the U.S. market, but as some of the people around this table know, and as the former minister knows, it was something that the industry had a serious concern with, as did border communities from coast to coast to coast. We are trying to rectify that right now. Trust me: the border communities are going to be deeply involved in the U.S. campaign when it rolls out over the next year. It's a three-year campaign and they will be a very important part of the mix.
As for our relocation to Vancouver, I guess it's been 10 years, so we never tire of the question.
I think I would give two perspectives on that.
The first is that we are a global business. We operate in 12 different countries, in almost 25 different time zones. Given its nature, where our business is headquartered is not as important as the work that we do on the ground in the markets we're in, including here, domestically.
As for the concern we know has been raised about the move to Vancouver kind of isolating the then CTC from the rest of the country—and Mr. Bernier referred to the restructuring that we've done—our management team is far more reflective of the country. We are spending far more time, and frankly a little more travel budget than we'd like, to get out to industry events in different parts of the country to interact with them. We've been working with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada on a series of town hall meetings across the country, and I think it's starting to resonate, because we see in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, for example, partnership increases in co-investment, which we haven't seen in many years.
It's a project, Mr. Masse, that I know has been a concern. Our management team is quite seized with it, and I hope to be called back. A year from now I'm hoping to have an even better story for you on that front as well.
As far as being headquartered in Vancouver goes, it's probably good for the country that crown corporations aren't all sitting in Ottawa. Whether or not Vancouver was the right decision at the time is sort of a moot point. We're in a global business right now, and it's as good a place for us to conduct business as anywhere else.
I'm sorry if I—
Yes, I will talk about the consultations.
Mr. Goldstein said that our consultations with industry and the events in which our partners participate, such as Rendez-vous Canada, enable us to have ongoing dialogue with those folks and to know what is happening on the ground.
Business people and small and medium-sized businesses, which rely on tourism, share their concerns with us on a daily basis. That has been reflected in our ad campaigns and in the technology we use, mainly on digital platforms. We will probably still have traditional advertising in the future, but with digital tools, we can go further and target clients more.
We will be able to promote the events in the provinces, territories and cities, such as the Foire Brayonne in Edmundston, in niche areas such as festivals or culinary events, like the ones in Newfoundland and Labrador, events that make people very proud. The willingness to work together is really there because we are increasingly listening to them; we hear them.
There is a host of visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and so on. Clearly, most visitors come from the United States, since we are neighbours. Having travelled a bit, I know that Europeans come here for a change of scenery. For them, Canada represents open spaces, forests, oceans and great rivers.
Apart from the proximity and the value of the Canadian dollar, is there anything else that attracts Americans to our country? What do they find here that they do not have at home?
I would like to welcome the guests here today from the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Certainly, some of the discussions you had were about the ratios with investments from outside compared to the government dollars that are associated with it. I think it's extremely important to recognize the ebb and flow that is there, whether it's the 1988 Olympics in Calgary versus 2010 and then the lead-up to 2017. To expect that to remain the same isn't particularly the way business is going to look at what takes place, so I think that's important. It's certainly a great goal. I think it's perhaps showing that, in the lead-up to 2017, everybody's engaged at this point in time, which is significant.
I know that Brian was talking earlier about where the head office might be located, but in central Alberta we don't have a cross-border issue that we have to deal with. Of course, Alberta is more than just mountains. The Red Deer River that goes through my riding starts in the mountains and it goes down to Drumheller. It overlooks the valley and every once in a while I take a look at the sign that indicates that 10,000 years ago that area was under one kilometre of ice. Perhaps that might be a surprise to Leonardo DiCaprio. It's certainly something that people should realize.
I'd like to ask you, though, about the small and medium-sized enterprises, where about 10% are in the tourism industry. How much are they able to participate in terms of engaging with their marketing expertise in your tourism industry?
Obviously, this is the backbone of the sector. I would say—and I'm not sure if this is politically correct—that where it would merit a federal investment of public dollars would not be to support big multinational companies that do business in Canada. It would be to support the small and medium-sized parts of the sector that would have a very difficult time in and of themselves getting to export markets. We spend a lot of time talking about our advertising campaigns, but really the heart of our business, which is of special importance to me, is the trade show activity, or the trade commissioner function that we provide to help small and medium-sized businesses find those export markets.
We not only do a big show here called Rendez-vous Canada, which moves around the country to different destinations, but we do a dozen or so international trade shows. Some of them are our own; some of them are other international groups that we work with.
I just came back from a three-day show in Australia where there were very small providers, many of them from Alberta, who would not be able to get to that Australian customer, those travel agencies, those tour companies, on their own without the bridge that we help provide. Probably my favourite part of my job, quite frankly, is to spend time with those businesses and market.
We would invite the committee to, first of all, come to see Rendez-vous Canada in Montreal in April, and where warranted, to come and see some of the work we're doing internationally, because that's the real platform and the real help that we provide. We're talking about thousands of small businesses across the country that participate in these programs, so that's of particular importance to us.
That's an excellent question. Do you have any other questions?
Voices: Oh, Oh!
Mr. David Goldstein: I take the glass half-full approach. I think we're a much more efficient organization than we were four years ago, and marketing has changed a great deal in the last four or five years.
I'm not prepared to Monday morning quarterback any of the decisions that were taken by my predecessors. I think you also have to take into account that there were a lot of other special projects going on that went into that funding model including the Olympics, money for SARS relief, and economic development money that came through the last economic action plan.
I think when you take it in its totality, it looks like it was a much larger piece. The actual A-based funding has diminished a bit, but not by the same proportion. We respond to the dollars that Parliament provides us. We put forward a plan to Treasury Board to invest those dollars as best we can. Hopefully, on the other side, we do what we can to have commercially relevant campaigns that are going to increase the other partner investment to maximize that as well.
As we move towards that, I would say that we're probably spending or investing far more efficiently than we were three or four years ago.
I'm not naive enough to say that it's not helpful, but it's not as helpful as people think. In fact, the acknowledgement of the difference in the dollar is very low in the U.S. right now. It's actually more impactful in some other countries like Australia, where they're going to make a decision between travelling to Canada or the U.S. based on the dollar issue.
I joke, but the research bears it out. If you live 45 minutes south of the Canadian border, you don't know there is a Canadian dollar.
I think that will gain traction, but I don't want us to ever put Canada on sale. I think there are selective opportunities that we can seize, maybe not as Destination Canada, but our commercial partners may wish to enhance certain opportunities because of the exchange rate. I, and our management team would never advocate, “Canada is on sale now. You should come.”
To your point, that's only a short-term issue until we figure out what happens with the dollar two or three years from now. I think we've got an exceptional product to sell, even at par. You will see that the numbers actually started to come back even before the huge discrepancy in the Canadian dollar. I think there's a value play. It is a much stronger argument for us.
We do have some data. It's a little imperfect data on domestic spend, but we do have some data on that.
As far as agricultural tourism is concerned, I had the great gift at lunch today to eat a piece of cod that was hand-caught at Fogo Island. To us, agricultural tourism is a really fascinating area that we see enveloping culinary tourism as well. I think there's a beautiful marriage there of culinary and agricultural tourism. We're working with a couple of different culinary groups right now on just that. I agree with you, it's a tremendous opportunity in all of our markets, not just the U.S. market, but also Europeans, Asians. I think there's a great deal.
When we do our research, we see that Canada unfortunately isn't seen as very sophisticated from a culinary perspective, even though we are. It's something we're spending some time and attention on.
Roughly, domestic spends less. It's a bigger percentage.
Our biggest challenge is that pre-2002, Canada's split was roughly sixty-forty—60% domestic receipts, 40% international. It's now eighty-twenty.
Obviously, it's new dollars to the Canadian economy, which is critical, but they will also spend more, so they're a higher yield customer.
That's our legislated mandate, to look at export revenues, but it's also, I think, the most important piece for the Canadian economy.
Can I circle back to your point on trade, which I thought was very important?
Deloitte released a report about two years ago—and we'll furnish it for the committee–that drew a direct line through econometric data that for every 1% increase we do in visitation to Canada, it leads to $820 million in additional trad, not just the dollars it stimulates in the actual visitation, but additional trade and investment. That is just the basic intuitive principle, that you do business with people where you visited or people you like and trust, and countries that have bilateral travel and tourism do exceptionally well.
Within the context of other trade agreements or our main partners, to us, stimulating that bilateral tourism or that bilateral business travel is really important as well.
This dovetails with the previous answer. We actually spend a lot of time going through economic modelling on these issues. You also have to factor in the yield of that customer. When we crunch through the model, it really looks as though the best way to deploy our investment is with about 45% in the U.S., about 27% in Asia Pacific, about one quarter in Western Europe, and then that last 4% or 5% in Brazil and Mexico.
We monitor that on an annual basis, knowing two things. First of all, you can't pull in and out of markets too quickly, because sustained marketing takes some time to get traction. There's a different visitor mix in some of those markets, so that some of them are more visiting friends and family, some of them are more doing business travel, some of them are more doing independent leisure travel. That figures its way into the mix as well.
We also look at air access as an important piece of that. I'll use both China and India as an example. We've had fairly limited air access to those markets over the last few years, so even though the growth numbers, from a percentage basis, look pretty dramatic, the numbers themselves are not that dramatic because of the limits on the amount of air access available to us. We see in both those markets a tremendous increase in air access over the last 12 months, and probably going forward in the next 14 to 18 months, so that factors into our decisions there as well.
It's a difficult decision to make. It's easy to say I love all my children, but we're trying to achieve a balanced market approach, or a balanced portfolio approach. That means not putting our eggs into too many baskets. Some destinations saw the growth by China and just put so much, a very high percentage, of their marketing budget into that market. We're trying to create a balanced approach, again based on where we think the best yield is.
I'm sorry my answers are very long and I'm taking all of your time, but it's interesting and I think it's important for the committee to know that we're actually punching well above our weight in some of those mature markets. We're doing well in emerging markets, but you can look at a market like Japan. The outbound numbers from Japan are flat or up 1%, and for us they were up 6% last year, which means that Canada's actually growing market share.
It's the same with the U.K., and we're getting almost record numbers out of France right now. Those are very high-yield customers, so we're doing our best to create a balanced portfolio approach with your investment, and the investment of our co-investors, to achieve the best results we can.
Mr. Goldstein. I really respect your work. We've worked before on different issues related to your different portfolios.
I just want to challenge you to think about a couple of things when you go away from here. I looked at your board of directors. There are two each from Toronto and Niagara Falls, and one each from St. John's, Vancouver, Banff, Richmond, which is next to Vancouver, Ottawa, Whitehorse, and Quebec City.
Then your brand experiences committee has three from Toronto, one from Winnipeg, one from Halifax, and then the other ones aren't noted in here. I know you went from 45, which is rather unruly—and I think that was a good move, by far—but you're down to 11. I would just suggest that this is not representative. I'm not saying these people aren't qualified.
I would argue this. Let's take the example, of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative for passports. Generally speaking, 30% of Americans won't get a passport for privacy reasons.
Do they know about my region where we had the War of 1812? We were in the front lines of the Underground Railroad, the rum runners, and all those different things. We see nothing from the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Also, I would disagree with you about the low Canadian dollar. Actually, we need to be quick in acting on that, because our casino numbers are up significantly again. It wasn't by any federal fault. We were promised a new casino. We watched the Detroit regime being built up of three, and we finally got into the game again for the second time, but far after the damage was done.
Also, cross-border shopping goes down, for sure, and then we do have Americans coming, because they're visiting here, and we have a lot of Canadians who are staying home. My dad is one of them; he was in Florida. They're coming back earlier. They're spending less money there.
I would just argue that at some point in time to consider consulting with some of those communities that are right along the border. Niagara Falls, obviously, is there, but they're weighted heavily in your group here, in my opinion.
Again, I'm not saying that these people do not have the experience or capabilities of understanding that, but I'd just question that, because we really haven't had much of a CTC presence in my riding for a long number of years. That's not to criticize the previous administration either. I'm just giving you the facts.
On the larger issue of the American market, that takes a long time.
Let me talk about the representation issue, because our board is regularly under renewal. There are two vacancies right now. And the Governor in Council is well aware of that. We welcome diversity, regionally and otherwise, on the board.
For the committee structure, what you don't see in that report, because it's just been done this year—and that is last year's report—is that we have actually changed the committee model. We've broadened it so there are now four committees. The membership of the committees has increased by 20%. We have tried to be far more representative of different parts of the country and, I would say, more representative of small and medium-sized businesses from across the country.
You've asked me to consider that. Consider it considered. It's something we've actually been working on quite actively, because it's an important part of our annual planning process. Consider the point well-taken.