The Tourism Lexicon: 2020 Canadian Edition

schedule 18 min read calendar_today
<span>The Tourism Lexicon: 2020 Canadian Edition</span>

by: Destinations International Advocacy & Research Team

The Tourism Lexicon
2020 Canadian Edition

able / available
economic development
worker / work

Button: 2020 Tourism Lexicon

List Type
Text with Multiple Buttons

FDN: 2020 Canada Tourism Lexicon Text

Two weeks ago, we posted on this blog the 2020 United States version of the New Tourism Lexicon and today we are proud to post the first ever 2020 Canadian version.  This represents the first time we are offering country specific results. Soon we will look at other countries and pull together conclusions from multiple areas of the world.

Like all our lexicon releases, they are based on the idea that relying merely on ROI numbers to defend the value and relevancy of a destination organization was no longer a viable advocacy strategy. Instead, we argued, destination organizations need to support the message of ROI in terms of dollars and cents with an emotional and value-based appeal to convince political leaders and community stakeholders that without a destination organization, these returns will inevitably vanish.

We detailed this argument in our policy paper “The New Tourism Lexicon: Rewriting Our Industry's Narrative.” The reality is that people tend to frame political arguments, and the facts behind them, in terms of their own values. What this means, essentially, is that words matter in politics, and those words need to be chosen carefully and need to carry an emotional connection that connects with people’s values and the values of our industry.

The lexicon is based in values. At the end of this blog we have detailed those values that Destinations International believes that a successful destination organization embodies.

The New Tourism Lexicon

Utilizing Quorum, the world's most comprehensive database of legislative information, we were able to build a list of key words that were used repeatedly by Canadian federal elected officials when talking positively about travel and tourism. Positive words like “community,” “people” and “work” showed up repeatedly. We then ran an analysis of political discourse around related topics and public goods and found that many of the same key words were being repeated by political leaders. In 2018 we released a master list of ten key words. A year later, we updated that list and expanded it to twenty words.

Today, we are releasing our 2020 Canadian edition of thirty words. This list is a result of running searches in five general areas that are public goods. The result was 1,598 words from 7,000 entries taken from the external communications, including social media posts, newsletters, and press releases of federal elected officials across Canada.

In selecting the words, we started by eliminating words that are numbers, people, places, and names.  We eliminated “shop talk” - words associated with government process. Then we eliminated connecting words like “and” or “to” as well as words that are clearly connected to but are not the actions and subject of sentences and thoughts – words like “going” or “say”. It is those actions and thoughts that are what we are after.

Canadian Lexicon During the Great Interruption

The 2020 search reflected the current events driven by the COVID-19 (ranked #126) outbreak with words like “pandemic” (ranked #61), “virus” (ranked #95) and “emergency” (ranked #157) in the top 250 and others ranked very highly in the overall list.  We also find words associated with activities to combat the virus (testing #94, distancing #141, mask #201) and other health-related words (care #16, case #23, medical #165).  Most prominently, the word “health" came in #3 out of 1,598 words.

Unlike the United States Lexicon, government words ranked highly reflecting a more socialized environment and history that sees government as having a more active role in the society and the economy. It would appear to be seen as having a very active role in combating this crisis. “Government ranked #19 with other government related word throughout the top 250 words. The highest ranking “province” (#9) was “Ontario” (#67) as we would expect as both a highly populated province and the seat of the federal government. Following in the top 500 was “New Brunswick” (#86), Saskatchewan (#197), Quebec (#354), Alberta (#367) and Newfoundland (#488).

It is worth noting that the word “travel” ranked very highly (#91) in our public good search. “Tourism” ranked #216. But related words like “visit” and “welcomed” were nowhere close to it suggesting that the terms may be as much related to the pandemic as it is to our industry sector. There remains work to be done to solidify our position.

But perhaps the biggest change is words moving to the top that are associated with what people need and want as well as the need for plans to move forward, useful information, and knowledge to address the problems before us. Words like “know” (#2), “question” (#13), “plan” (#63), “program” (#73), information (#88) 88)and “forward” (#97).  We also find words like “first,” “second,” “third” or “one,” “two,” “three” highly ranked and suggesting steps of a plan. In our mind, this provides us with an opportunity.

But the center of everything we do is about people and this is reflected in the list. “Canadian” (#48), “worker” (#50), “family” (#56), “everyone” (#69), “child (#90), and “resident” (#156). This leads us to the #1 word for this round of The New Tourism Lexicon.

The 2020 #1 Word


Human beings considered collectively; the men, women, and children of a nation, community, or ethnic group; a group of people inhabiting an area or place; the people within a destination.

Associated industry value: Passion, Collaboration, and Inclusiveness.

Possible uses:

  • If you build a place where people want to visit, you have built a place where people want to live. If you build a place where people want to live, then you have built a place where people want to work.  If you build a place where people want to work than you have built a place where employers want to locate.  It all starts with a visit.
  • Destination organizations exist to help and support the people in our community.
  • A destination brand is not a slogan or an ad campaign, it is the sum of a the history, character and culture of the people of a destination.

The next 29 words are as follows in the order that they ranked.


To be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information; to have developed a relationship with a person or a people through meeting and spending time with them; to be familiar or friendly with.

Associated industry value: Awareness.

This is the first appearance of this word on Destinations International’s key word list and at first, we were not sure whether to include it.  But the fact that it was not only the number one word on the search list, but number one by a clear margin made it hard not to place it on the list. That combined with the definition -- to be aware -- sealed the deal. “Know” is a word that ties back to one of the key values of our industry - awareness. And in this time of pandemic and civil and economic unrest, it goes to the core of what people are seeking – to know what the problem is and to know what solutions may exist.

Possible uses:

  • A destination organization knows its community – better than any outside consultant can.
  • We seek to know the answers to key questions, such as: do our residents feel safe enough to invite visitors? Do visitors feel safe to visit our destination?
  • Need help exploring our destination?  We know our way around. We have this knowledge because we are a local.


The state of being free from illness or injury; a person's mental or physical condition; state of a community’s economic and societal position.

Associated industry value: Passion and Relevance.

Possible uses:

  • The health of our community’s economy depends on a strong travel economy.
  • Residents and visitors alike are understanding the health needs to embrace face masks and social distancing in public spaces.
  • The health, physical, socially and economically, of our residents is our number one priority!


Not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time; already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time; just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than what went before.

Associated industry value: Innovation, Sustainability.

Possible uses:

  • Our destination offers new experiences for visitors which results in new opportunities for our residents.
  • We welcome new ideas and fresh perspectives. We embrace and use new technologies and platforms to tell our story.
  • We work with new technologies, but our approach is rooted in our true and tested values.


To require something because it is essential or very important; a thing that is wanted or required.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Sustainability.

Possible uses:

  • Every community needs to compete with every other community for their share of the world’s attention, customers, ideas, and investment. This is the community need that a destination organization fills.
  • A community needs destination promotion just as it needs education, health care, public safety, and utilities.
  • Our travel economy must be developed with the needs of the community in mind.


To plan, schedule, or arrange when something should happen or be done; measure the time taken by a process or activity; an instance of something happening or being done; an occasion or a moment.

Associated industry value: Innovation, Sustainability.

Possible uses:

  • During this Great Interruption, it is important to take this time to plan for the Next Normal.
  • Destination organization employees are professionals who take the time to learn the industry, its trends, and its habits, and identify what opportunities exist for our community.
  • We understand that our history is a collection of times made up of individual moments that make us who we are.


An activity involving mental or physical effort done to achieve a purpose or result; a task or tasks to be undertaken; something a person or thing must do; a job.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Relevance, Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • We put 1.8 million people to work in big and small communities across our country.
  • Our industry puts people to work who have every range of education level.
  • One out of every eleven people in Canada are working in jobs are directly or indirectly relying on the travel industry.
  • We work to sustain our destination in a way that maintains our community, our assets and preserves our brand while growing opportunity.
  • Tourism provides one of the most diversified workforces in the country. In addition to being the top employers of youth, tourism businesses also employ more women, indigenous peoples, new Canadians and seniors than most other business sectors.
  • The recruitment and retention of Canadian workers first is and will always be a top priority.


A sentence worded or expressed to elicit information; feel or express doubt about; raise objections to; seek an answer or test an approach.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Innovation, Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • The two key questions now are do our residents feel safe enough to invite visitors and do visitors feel safe enough to visit our destination?
  • We are aware. We ask questions. We research. We engage. And most of all, we listen.
  • We seek to be the best and periodically, question our plans and strategies to make sure they meet the needs of our destination.


A person's regular occupation, profession, or trade; the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce; an entity that creates jobs.

Associated industry value: Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • The travel industry creates and supports more small businesses than any other major sector.
  • Travel promotion is business development.
  • We are in the business of community building.
  • In addition to being the top employers of youth, tourism businesses also employ more women, indigenous peoples, new Canadians and seniors than most other business sectors.


The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or some place; serious attention applied to doing something correctly; look after and provide for the needs of.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Inclusivity, Sustainability.

Possible uses:

  • We care about the people in our community.  They are our number one priority.
  • Destination promotion is done out of care for the health and welfare of our community.


A lack or deficiency of something; a desire for something; a community need.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Inclusiveness.

Possible uses:

  • We want everyone in our community to feel welcome.
  • We want our staff to feel appreciated and respected.
  • Our community wants information, opportunity, and jobs.
  • We appreciated and seek to address the needs and wants of all the communities in our destination.


A need or something concerning the people as a whole or done, perceived, or existing in open view.

Associated industry value: Collaboration, Inclusiveness, Transparency.

Possible uses:

  • A destination organization is a public good that fills a public need.
  • In the end, a destination organization serves the public. It is why they exist.
  • We operate in the public for the public. We share our successes and victories; we also share when we have fallen short or failed.


A group of people living in the same place or having a characteristic in common; a feeling of fellowship with others, because of sharing common attitudes, interests, values, and goals; residents of a destination.

Associated industry value: Passion and Relevance.

Possible uses:

  • Tourism builds community.
  • Addressing the need for destination promotion is for the benefit and well-being of every person in a community.
  • Destination promotion is an essential investment to develop opportunities and build quality of life to benefit all the residents of a community.


To bear all or part of the weight of; hold up, give assistance to; enable to function; material assistance.

Associated industry value: Collaboration, Relevance

Possible uses:

  • You have a story to tell about how travel supports your community and the economy.
  • Our community is supported by our programs achieving our mission.
  • We support our stakeholders.
  • Travel supports 1,875 indigenous tourism businesses.
  • The travel sector supports 10.6% of the total Canadian workforce.


the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household; a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates; the goal or end point.

Associated industry value: Passion, Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • Our destination is our home.
  • We understand that our destination is our home and therefore, we seek to maintain our community, our assets and preserve our brand while growing opportunity.
  • Our destination is our home and because of that, we seek to see it flourish.


the action of helping or doing work for someone; a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, utilities, or destination promotion.

Associated industry value: Awareness

Possible uses:

  • Our success is our service to you and your experience in our destination.
  • An experience in our destination means a level of service above and beyond.
  • A destination organization does not operate to generate a profit, it operates as a service to the community.


To make it easier for someone to do something by offering one's services or resources; the action of helping someone to do something; to aid.

Associated industry value: Awareness

Possible uses:

  • We are here to help.
  • Our mission is to help and advance our community.
  • Our goal it to help our community to create quality of place which directly influences the quality of life.


A method, style, or manner of doing something; a road, track, path, or street for traveling along; a specified direction of travel or movement; a distance traveled or to be traveled.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • We need to find the way forward. Our community depends upon that.
  • Our plan to help represents the way forward.
  • Every community must compete with every other community for their share of the world’s attention, customers, ideas, and investment. The way to do that is to make people aware of a community, have a positive impression, and want to visit to experience the community and meet its people.


A position or point in space; a building or area used for a specified purpose or activity; a home.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Passion

Possible uses:

  • Our destination is not just a place on the map, it is a unique and thriving community.
  • We do not just provide information about a place; we tell the story of a community and its people.
  • We engage in place making as a means of economic development.
  • Quality of place leads to quality of life.


A group of people related to one another by blood or marriage; all the descendants of a common ancestor; a group of related things.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Inclusiveness

Possible uses:

  • A destination organization’s mission is at its heart, to help our community – our neighbors, our friends, and our families.
  • Our destination organization is staffed by professionals that live in our community.  They do what they do not for some bottom line – they do it for their own families in addition to everyone else’s.
  • A destination is a collection of families that we take great care with.


Coming immediately after the time of writing or speaking; coming immediately after the present one in order, rank, or space; the immediate future.

Associated industry value: Innovation

Possible uses:

  • We need to prepare for the future, the next normal.
  • For us, quality service will remain for your next visit.
  • Destination organizations are always looking for the next practical action or strategies for sustainable success in a dramatically changing world.


Having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something. Having considerable skill, proficiency, or intelligence. With these, being able to be used or obtained and being at our community’s disposal.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Inclusive

Possible uses:

  • We are available to offer our talents and knowledge to any civic endeavor.
  • We have the abilities to help the meeting planner, event organizer, visitor, entrepreneur, and site selector.
  • We are able to promote our community to the world.
  • Our greatest strengths are our local knowledge and customer availability.


A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; a detailed map or diagram; decide on and arrange in advance.

Associated industry value: Innovation, Collaboration, Sustainability, Passion.

Possible uses:

  • Our continued success relies on our ability to plan to fail, but not fail to plan.
  • We will continually evaluate our mission and priorities based upon on our strategic planning.
  • We build plans and programs that maintains our community, our assets and preserves our brand while growing opportunity.
  • We have plans to move our community forward and through this time of crisis.


The creation of wealth from which community benefits are realized; an investment in growing the economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all a community’s residents.

Associated industry value: Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • Through destination stewardship and brand importance, destination organizations strengthen the community’s economic development abilities and its vitality which provides opportunity for all the people in the destination.
  • A destination organization is an economic development organization.
  • Travel promotion is an instrument of both short- and long-term economic development.


A set of related measures or activities with a long-term aim, an activity that solves a problem.

Associated industry value: Innovation, Relevance.

Possible uses:

  • A destination organization is a community asset responsible for programs promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work.
  • A destination organization creates promotional programs to share the brand of our destination.
  • We develop programs that solves problems and fills needs.


A paid position of regular employment; a task or piece of work, especially one that is paid. Note that while “job” and “work” are related like squares and rectangles, they are not totally the same thing in this lexicon.  Job tends to be structured and have a payment component. Work is the action that may or may not be paid.

Associated industry value: Relevance, Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • Travel provides jobs for millions of Canadians, half of whom are under 35.
  • Travel is a major source of jobs for our country’s youth.
  • We need to promote tourism career options through job training.


Facts provided or learned about something or someone; what is conveyed or represented by an arrangement or sequence of things; an answer to a question.

Associated industry value: Collaboration, Transparency,

Possible uses:

  • Currently, people need information on how to support our stakeholders and operate day to day in this current situation.
  • We are the number one provider of information about every aspect of our destination.
  • Our goal is to understand the needs and wants of our community and to provide information to address them.


To make a journey, typically of some length or abroad, to a place or places; a business sector.

Possible uses:

  • Travel and tourism is a dynamic, sustainable and vastly diverse industry, comprised of innovative businesses in every region of the country.
  • Pre-clearance facilities are now available in more U.S. and Canadian airports and ports of entry than ever before – easing travel for thousands of people each year.
  • We support adopting a “whole of government” approach to tourism that recognizes and prioritizes the travel sector as one of Canada’s major economic drivers and job creators.


To be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost.

Associated industry value: Awareness, Relevance

Possible uses:

  • We want to be safe in our community.
  • People need to know that it is safe to invest public money in our destination organization.
  • We want to travel to a place that is safe for us to do so.
  • The two key questions now are do our residents feel safe enough to invite visitors and do visitors feel safe enough to visit our destination?


To move onward so as to make progress; toward a successful conclusion; toward the future; ahead in time.

Associated industry value: Sustainability

Possible uses:

  • We need to find the way forward. Our community depends upon that.
  • From this day forward, our residents are our ultimate customer.
  • As we move forward, we understand that this must be done in a way that maintains our community, our assets and preserves our brand while growing opportunity.

Other Words of Value

While these thirty words rise to the top of our list, other words that have value for these times include risk, life, change, protect, open, provide, essential, everyone, meeting, fund/funding, local, open, opportunity, project, provide, resident, neighbor and investment. Finding ways to use them with the thirty words above can magnify the impact in connecting with people.

The Values of the Destination Organization Community

The lexicon is based in values. Core to our industry are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. These are so important to us that throughout the changes in society, politics, and technology they still are the foundation upon which we build our organization and develop our programs.

Destinations International identified the following eight values that our industry embodies (or should embody). Each organization within our sector has additional values that makes them unique and ties them to their destination.

  • Awareness: Concern about and well-informed interest in a situation, topic, or development. We are aware. We ask questions. We research. We engage. And most of all, we listen. We are well informed about our community, its past and its present, and we understand the hopes and dreams the people of our community - our home.
  • Passion: An intense desire or enthusiasm for something. We are passionate about our destination. We have a strong desire to strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality and provide opportunity for all its residents. And it is with enthusiasm and eagerness that we seek to tell the world the story of our destination, of our history, of our culture, of our community and of our people.
  • Relevance: Closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered. We are relevant in our community. Our leadership, expertise and acumen is understood and valued. Our community depends upon our programs achieving our mission.
  • Transparency: Open to public scrutiny. We gladly inform our stakeholders and the community about what we do, how we operate and our return on investment. This means that in addition to sharing our successes and victories, we also share when we have fallen short or failed. We seek to be responsible and accountable without any prompting or prodding.
  • Collaboration: The action of working with someone to produce or create something. Effective collaboration contributes to our success. We work together with our customers, members, clients, suppliers, and community stakeholders to reach our goals. We seek to empower these people with better sharing of information to improve our capacity to solve key problems which ultimately leads to new innovations and approaches.
  • Inclusiveness: Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something. We welcome all into the fold. No one is turned away. We always strive to find ways to bring new people, new perspectives, and new ideas into our universe and through this, develop a clear, honest, and positive image of the destination’s brand that reflects everyone with our community.
  • Innovation: Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. We understand that while the organization’s values are unchanging, the means to achieving them are not. We welcome new ideas and fresh perspectives. We embrace and use new technologies and platforms to tell our story.
  • Sustainability: The ability to be maintained; avoidance of the depletion of resources to maintain balance. We understand that we are building value not for ourselves but for our customers, members, stakeholders, and future generations. We understand that this must be done in a way that maintains our community, our assets and preserves our brand while growing opportunity.