Despite a valiant effort from the Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), Canada’s 2015 Federal budget released on April 21 did not include a provision for a three-year pilot program called Road TRIP (Travel Rebate Incentive Program). The program was developed by the FDFA to help incentivize US tourism visits and related spending in Canada by allowing US travelers to have their 5% tax rebates processed on the spot at Canadian land border duty free stores.
As part of the program, travelers would have been encouraged to “Take 5” and consider making a final purchase with their rebate before returning to the US.
“Of course we are very disappointed, since we had so much support from so many stakeholders. But the truth is that we only began lobbying for the program five months ago, which is a very short time to introduce a new concept,” FDFA Executive Director Laurie Karson told TMI.
“Canada is in the midst of an oil crisis and with an election scheduled for later this year, it seems the government was being very cautious with its budget approvals. The only tourism pro-gram approved was the “Connecting America” campaign from the Canadian Tourism Association (Ed. Note: A 3-year coordinated, targeted and aligned tourism marketing campaign targeting high-end Americans), and our program would have worked in coordination with this.”
Karson confirms that a senior financial official has informed the FDFA that the Road TRIP proposal was one of the best executed files the department had received and had made it “to the top of the leaderboard” before being dismissed.
“We were encouraged to keep working on it and submit it again in the future. We will certainly be pursuing the program again after the Federal elections take place next October, once we know who will be in office,” said Karson.
“The fact is that TIAC’s Connecting America program is very air-centric, focusing most of its efforts on air travelers. Road TRIP, on the other hand, addresses car traffic. The main focus of both programs is that tourism matters and this is what we will be pursuing. We are committed to developing the program and have excellent momentum going for us now,” concluded Karson.