Mr. Speaker, I asked a question previously about Canada's tourism market share in our industry and about the concern that the government's tourism strategy was inadequate. I now have the opportunity to continue and make a few more points in this regard.
It is a good thing that the government has put forward a tourism strategy but, unfortunately, it is a very disappointing piece of work. When I attended the Canadian Tourism Industry Association's large gathering here in Ottawa not that long ago, one of the key spokespersons said that the strategy kind of reminded him of a university term paper. Now that was not to put down university students, but it was a commentary on the amateurish nature of this strategy. There are no measurables in it, no specific actions, no clear criteria and no way of knowing whether the strategy is working or not. This was not a very impressive piece of work.
The tourism industry is a very important industry. It contributed 617,000 jobs in Canada in 2010 and a lot of these were small business jobs. There are 180,000 tourism businesses in Canada. Therefore, it is a very important industry that deserves better attention than that tourism strategy. I was disappointed that the minister let that one go by.
A couple of days ago, we saw the opening of a new office in Beijing by the Canadian Tourism Commission, which is a good thing, but it also reminds us that the government, because of its diplomatic gaffs and because of our Prime Minister insulting China and the Chinese leadership over the course of three or four years, creating a really negative climate and atmosphere between China, one of Canada's most important trading partners with a hugely growing economy and the hundreds of thousands of tourists interested in Canada, we actually lost the opportunity to have Canada as an approved destination status. It was only approved in 2009, although it had been planned to be approved in 2006 after years of work by the Liberal government.
Having this approved destination status delayed for almost four years was a failure that has cost our tourism businesses hugely. Actually, Canada ended up being one of the last developed nations to get this status from China, whereas, when the Liberal government was first negotiating for it, we were in line to be one of the very first developed countries to enjoy the status.
Last year, that status increased our tourism visits from China by about 50,000 visitors. We can think of the years of lost opportunity for our tourism operators. Callously and carelessly, the Prime Minister managed to squander that opportunity through his inexperience and his diplomatic failures.
Those are not the only challenges for our tourism industry. The government's policies have been a series of blunders and diplomatic gaffs that have contributed to a decline in the international market share for Canada. We have all the opportunity in the world to be very competitive. We are number one in branding but we have fallen from number seven to number fifteen in actual international tourism overnight visits.
Our industry deserves better than the Prime Minister doing photo ops in China. It deserves better than a second-rate strategy. It deserves a real focus. These are real people, real jobs and real businesses and the government needs to do better.