Thursday, November 15

Small business dealing well with current challenges

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Jean-Rene Halde, president and CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada, says smaller companies tend to face the same challenges as larger ones, whether it be the strong dollar or domestic labour shortages, and so far it appears that, as a group, they've been dealing with those challenges. Halde was quoted October 16, 2007 in an article by Eric Beauchesne of CanWestNews Service, in which he points out this sector is innovative and agile, important because they make up the vast majority of businesses in Canada.

"We're a nation of basically, small and medium-sized businesses," he said in the CanWest article, noting that of the one million businesses with at least one employee in Canada, 97.7 per cent are small firms with less than 100 employees, and two per cent are medium-sized businesses with between 100 and 500. Halde is optimistic they will continue to meet the challenges as long as they don't get blindsided by the unexpected.

Interestingly, Halde thinks the biggest challenges facing small and medium-size firms are ones which have been around longer: labour shortages (which are especially acute in western Canada) and the strong dollar, which has been particularly challenging for smaller manufacturers who export to the US. "If you happen to an exporter, even a smaller one, obviously the rise in the loonie has been a problem," he said. "The rate at which the Canadian dollar has gone up, has made it tough to adjust."

Tourism is considered an export industry, although the sector is not directly identified in the CanWestNews report, which was published in the Vancouver Sun here.

Alberta tourism industry grows despite decrease in American visitors

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Alberta Index reports that Alberta's tourism industry had a strong summer, with hotel occupancy and event attendance comparable or slightly better than last year. "According to the Post-Summer 2007 Alberta Tourism Operator Survey, Albertans and other Canadians continued to make up the largest segment of visitors to attractions in the province this past summer."

The number of visitors from the US was down, said tourism operators. "However, recent data from Statistics Canada shows the growth of US visitors arriving directly to Canada via Alberta ports of entry (during the first seven months of 2007 compared with 2006) is greater than the national average."

Visits from the UK, Central Europe and Australia remained strong this summer while visits from Asia were slightly above or on par with 2006 results, according to the publication.

"Campgrounds, RV parks and adventure operators experienced an increase in visitors and revenue, which many operators have attributed to the increase in regional traffic within the province."

Ninety-three tourism operators from across Alberta, Eastern Canada and the US responded to the survey, conducted last month. Tourism is a $5-billion industry in Alberta and employs more than 103,000 people.