In 1985, the government of Canada approached Longwoods to see if we could help it understand why, over the past 15 years, its tourism sector had suffered a 50% decline.
Many theories had been used to explain why US travellers had stopped visiting, but there was no consensus or proven explanation as to why.
We conducted what was, at the time, the largest-ever study of the American travel market, completing 9,000 in-home interviews for analysis.
We found that Canada’s image amongst US travellers could best described as “Moose, Mountains and Mounties” … the country was seen as beautiful, but consisting of mostly empty wilderness.
Unfortunately, Tourism Canada’s advertising was reinforcing the negative stereotype of Canada as a place filled with empty wilderness, mountains, and mounties.
Results of our US pleasure travel study showed Canadians that their old assumptions about their country’s attractions had been wrong. Our research shed light on what was important when selling Canada to US travellers… that is was relatively close and easy to travel to, and that it was a warm, friendly and safe country to visit.
Canada was not America, and as such, it offered American travellers a unique cultural alternative without having to fly across the ocean to get it.