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

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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

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