Canada's new tourism minister to 'defend interests' at cabinet retreat

In her new role, Mélanie Joly is keen to position the industry as an economic driver that shouldn't be taken for granted

Canada used to be a Top 10 travel destination, but according to the country's new tourism minister, it has fallen off the map.

"For many years, the tourism sector [has been] overlooked and taken for granted," said Mélanie Joly, who this summer was appointed minister of tourism, official languages and La Francophonie.

"Many countries are really, really developing their strategies and really taking a leadership to take a good piece of that international growth. We need to do that," she said.

It's a bad time to fall behind. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Last year, international tourist arrivals grew by 7% – the strongest result in seven years. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, annual overnight visitor growth is expected to average around 4% through to 2020, and 2018 is already expected to beat projections.

Canadian tourism growth, by comparison, sits at 1.5% annually.

"There's an economic opportunity," said Joly in an exclusive with Business in Vancouver, which covered her priorities, demand in China and wildfire concerns.

Joly addressed tourism and business leaders in Vancouver on Tuesday at a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade event, before leaving to Nanaimo for the federal government's cabinet retreat.

Watch the full interview in the video below.