Why are fewer people visiting Canada?

People around the world are travelling more than ever—just not to Canada.

As the global tourism economy has doubled in the last 12 years, now totaling more than $1 trillion, the Canadian market has seen a 20 per cent drop, according to a report by Deloitte Canada.

This is a big change. In 1970 Canada ranked second only to Italy in attracting global tourists. Today Canada ranks 18th, behind Saudi Arabia and Thailand (France, the U.S, and China top the list).

And this is bad news for the entire Canadian economy. As Deloitte points out, all kinds of businesses benefit from a strong tourism industry.

The premise is simple: when business people travel to Canada, they might see potential forinvestment opportunities.

“What’s more, an increase in travellers to Canada could encourage Canadian companies to enter new markets internationally and experience greater competitive intensity,” Ryan Brain, a partner at Deloitte, told CBC News.

If Canada could increase the number of global travellers by just one percent, Deloitte says the export economy would spike by $817 million.

Over the next several decades, as the baby boomers enter old age, even more money could be up for grabs because retirees “are among the highest-spendinginternational travellers.”

In order to tap into that potential, Deloitte says the government should reduce fees and taxes on international flights to make it easier and cheaper to visit Canada.

The tourism industry also needs to innovate, Brain told the Financial Post, citing a series of new Toronto hotels and the Ripley’s Aquarium as examples. “We need to offer travellers something different than perhaps what they’ve seen in years past.”

For those who still choose to see Canada, here are the top ten travel spots they’re visiting, according to the Toronto Sun:

1. Niagara Falls
2. Banff National Park
3. The Rocky Mountains
4. Historic Old Quebec City
5. Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove
6. The Bay of Fundy
7. St. John’s Signal Hill
8. Polar bear watching in Churchill
9. The Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories
10. Anne’s home of Green Gables