At first glance, the common honey bee and tourism don’t have much in common. And no, I’m not thinking of a new super sub-niche segment of capturing those nine engaged and interested destination apiculturalists that would tax even the most robust of big data solutions.
While reading a segment on honey bees in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, September 26th, 2015 and an associated infographic called “The business of bees”, it struck me that we all get what we consider the primary business of honey bees, that is, to make honey. And Canada makes a lot of honey. About 82 million pounds of it annually retailing for over $200 million.
But like the tourism industry, that output, honey, is only the top of the honeycomb. Why? Because while honey production is the tangible, primary benefit of working bees, the intangible impact those bees have on the pollination of crops is worth a whopping $2 billion per annum. A full one-third of our plant-based foods are directly or indirectly dependent on bee pollination.
That indirect part is where the parallels lie to Canada’s tourism industry. While Canada’s tourism industry’s primary function is to fill airline seats, hotel rooms, convention centres, attractions and experiences—the honey, its indirect impact on the rest of Canada’s economy is truly significant. A study by Deloitte commissioned by Destination Canada in 2013, determined that for every 1% increase in international travel to Canada, exports rise by an additional $182 million over the following two years.
Why? Because those people and companies that invest in a place, that import products from a place, send their kids to be educated in a place or bring their much needed skills and intellect to a place, begins with a visit. The more people who see Canada, the more favourable they will be to investment.
But the business of tourism in Canada has a mixed reputation. It’s commonly referred to as an old school industry, hosting low paying jobs, where deals happen via drinks by the pool-side. Worse still, the belief is that tourism pales in comparison to the more high-profile industries such as high tech, with Canada’s other well-funded advocacy organizations keeping forestry, mineral extraction and other industries high on our government’s radar and investment programs.
Let’s be clear, tourism is Canada’s number one service export. Overall it’s Canada’s seventh largest export and that’s only counting the “honey.” An investment in tourism is an investment in Canada, its provinces and territories, cities and regions and actively contributes to economic, social and community development objectives.
Think of that the next time you want to sweeten your tea or toast