The importance of long-haul travel has remained steady for Japanese consumers despite the natural disasters striking the country in 2011. In wake of these events, travel motivation to Canada, let alone Alberta, has softened and we face significant challenges to overcome if Canada is to resume growth. In the long term, changes in consumer behaviour could provide new opportunities for Alberta. The entry of Brand USA into this market, coupled with a growing interest in dual-nation itineraries, puts Alberta in a strong position.
Trends show an increase in last-minute bookings and the desire for longer stays, and Alberta is properly positioned with Air Canada’s year-round direct access from Narita to Calgary. There is further opportunity with a younger demographic of travellers choosing more independent travel. Awareness of Alberta as a travel destination is very low in Japan and similar product offerings from Australia remain a challenge. Promoting Alberta as a winter destination also poses challenges as sunny beach vacations are popular with Japanese travellers wishing to escape winter in Japan.
Travel Alberta will continue efforts as a part of the Team Canada initiative led by the CTC to help strengthen Canada’s image and support relationships with traditional escorted tour operators. Additionally, we will position ourselves with an array of experiences targeted at a younger independent traveller to help inspire year-round visitation. We will approach the Japanese market with a new website featuring brand assets and experiences that resonate with potential travellers.
Summer and winter consumer campaigns will be developed and aligned to the Alberta tourism brand. The winter campaign, in partnership with Air Canada, will address challenges with travellers preferring to book warm destinations. This will also help to gain confidence and build relationships with key tour operators over the long term. Travel trade activities will focus on joint marketing partnerships and Alberta training opportunities for industry. Public relations and media efforts will amplify CTC consumer campaigns and negotiate broadcast opportunities to increase awareness of Alberta though this highly influential channel.