India pitches in Canada’s tourism dream
Canada welcomed a total of 20 million visitors in 2016, out of which more than 215,664 were Indian tourists. TRAVTALK finds out from travel trade stakeholders why Canada is a favourite among Indian tourists and how can they help Canada achieve its dream o
India and Canada are natural allies. We have a large Indian diaspora which lives in Canada, and thus our relationship has always been warm and cordial. In terms of tourism, we get around 300,000 Canadians who come into India every year and we send around a similar number back into Canada. However, most of these numbers are actually coming from the diaspora, and hence we need to expand that. In fact, all the direct flights that Air Canada has started, with Air India following suite, would be a big lever to push this momentum forward.
We specialise in Canada and Alaska, and have been selling this destination since the year 2000, when nobody knew Canada beyond Toronto and Niagara Falls. Being specialists in this area, we have a variety of programmes. However, the normal itinerary which the Indian traveller prefers is Western Canada, especially Canadian Rockies, which starts from Banff to Jasper and also includes the most scenic rail journeys. In fact, one can travel across Canada by train and then to Vancouver, Whistler, and Victoria.
Canada has developed quite nicely as a destination and more and more people are taking interest in it. Now we also have the advantage as Air Canada will be operating direct flights from India. Over the next few years we will see a big rise in the number of Indians travelling to Canada. Canada has a lot to offer like Toronto which is very much different than the lakes of Canada, Montreal, Vancouver, cruises, rail road, etc. The destination is very good for summers and while in the winters it is very cold, the kind of experience one may have during the winters is altogether different. Right now the segment which has been doing best is the FITs and during the winters it’s the honeymooners.
Canada is a long-haul destination and with Destination Canada doing a lot of promotions, the destination is coming up well. There are some hurdles like visa duration which we discussed with the Minister. Long back, the visa was much more difficult, but now for MICE movements it’s simpler. Even for FITs, the turnaround period is around 20 days. I am expecting that the branding should reach Tier-II and III cities. Also we are looking at more workshops and interactions to see what else is there in Canada that we can sell in India apart from Toronto and Vancouver.
Canada is a high-end destination and is very popular among travellers from Gujarat. A lot of Gujaratis are now settled in Canada, which means that there are repeat visitors who are travelling including families of Indians settled in Canada. Another important factor that works in Canada’s favour is that there is a huge student traffic that is increasing to Canada from India. For tourists, the Rockies still hold the flagship in any Canadian holiday, especially when combined with an Alaskan cruise.
Canada as a destination has always been on top of every Indian travellers' list and this is not limited to just the summers, it is equally popular during winters as well. We have been promoting Canada since the last four years, and it's not just the luxury packages of Canda that appeal to the travellers, but it is also self-drive itineraries and the parks are also a favourite among travellers. We do a lot of anniversaries and celebrations in Canada. People have been repeating travel to Canada and also small family and adventure groups have been more important. Adventure sports activities have picked up quite well too.
People like to go to Canada and they like visiting Vancouver, Toronto, and taking the cruise. This is the preferred itinerary that Indians like to opt for usually. However, FITs and MICE needs are different, and there are also other requirements which may differ. India is a very important market for Canadian tourism. The world can’t neglect two markets right now — India and China. Both have their advantages and big population. Indian outbound tourism is growing by leaps and bounds and people here have the disposable income. It’s very important to capture this market.
India is a growing opportunity, in terms of tourism for Canada. Yearon-year we have been experiencing double digit growth in tourist arrivals. With more flights and more airlift available to India, we would be one of the most sought-after markets this year for Canadian suppliers doing business overseas. In terms of itinerary, while leisure travellers prefer Western Canada, which is primarily the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver and Alaska cruise, for the MICE segment, the preferred itinerary includes Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal, which is the Eastern part of Canada.
Canada is widely popular among Indian travellers. For Canada tourism, India is among the top three source markets today. Indians travelling to Canada for tourist purposes prefer a six-day itinerary that starts from Calgary, driving through the Rockies, Canmore, and then goes on to Vancouver. The destination has been very popular among Indian travellers and we have seen a 15 per cent growth Year-on-Year in the number of Indians seeking to travel to Canada. More than the growth, which is substantial, we have a challenge with the rooms to keep pace with the growing demand.
Our company specialises in niche destinations and with our expertise we’ve been doing very good numbers to Canada for the past several years. We also specialise in offering unique experiences and now we’re marketing the Atlantic treasure that is the region of Halifax, Newfoundland, and other unexplored places. The country of Canada is on the map of every discerning Indian traveller and the proof of the fact is that we do longer itineraries for various places in Canada like Yukon, Whitehorse, Quebec, etc. Among the various experiences, Alaskan cruises are very popular among Indian travellers flying to Canada. We are trying to send people from Montreal to Boston and are trying to promote winters in Canada. One of the most unique experiences which is the Northern Light experience is also coming of age and more and more people want to visit and witness this phenomenon.
Sanjeet Joher Vice President, Combined and Middle East Cox & Kings
Ashwini Kakkar Executive Vice Chairman Mercury Travels, India Travel Award winner
Kaushal Bhuva MD, WOV Travel Company Private Limited
Guldeep Singh Sahni DDP Trailblazer 2016 and President, OTOAI
Zubbin Khmbatta Director Shree Yash Destinations
Suman Billa Joint Secretary, Tourism Government of India
Jyot P. Jhaveri Director, Sunday Pure Holidays
Mahendra Vakharia Managing Director
Prasad Gopinath President DMCi Toronto
Mernoz Shastri Director Mazda Travel