Let’s travel together.

#RVC2018: Culture, Connect and Camaraderie in Canada

Rendezvous Canada 2018 (RVC 2018), which was held recently at Halifax, Nova Scotia, witnessed an estimate 1,875 registered delegates, an all-time attendance record (1,851 set in 2017) in the show’s 42-year history. India was well represented by a robust number of tour operators.

“India is an extremely important market for us, with respect to tourism sector and we warmly welcome our India contingent at RVC 2018 to this part of the world,” emphasised David F. Goldstein, president  & CEO, Destination Canada, in an exclusive conversation with Express TravelWorld. We as countries have only explored the tip of the iceberg in the tourism space and there is so much more one can achieve together through such platforms and connect opportunities, a thought which was expressed by Destination Canada’s forerunners in tourism. Emmanuelle Legault, VP, International, Destination Canada, gave India a warm welcome by introducing Carl Vaz, CEO & strategy director and GSA Destination Canada for India as the new kid on the block with a lot of promise. Destination Canada has renewed their faith in the India market with new strategic planning and focus to reach out to a wider platform of buyers and target market.

India director’s voice

Articulating further, Vaz said, “India’s economy is witnessing promising growth and is set to grow at 7.5 per cent this year, which means more disposable income etc. The visit of the honourable prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, along with honourable minister of small business and tourism and leader of the government in the House of Commons, Bardish Chagger, in February 2018, helped a lot to kick off work in India. As per projections, 30 million Indian travellers will travel outbound this year – a growth of around 30 per cent as last year. As far as the travel of Indians into Canada is concerned, the prediction is that 273 thousand Indians will be visiting Canada this year, a growth rate of seven per cent. They will spend over half a billion Canadian dollars, which is a growth rate of 10 per cent. Its important to understand that these travellers spend on an average 2000 dollars on an air ticket to Canada from India. They are serious about their spend and their experience. An average person spends 6.5 Canadian dollars for a six days stay. India has a robust population of the millennials in the world. They are holding promising jobs and they want out of the ordinary travel experiences. The millennials is a sector who wants to travel for special occasions. Social media is powerful in India. Further, there has been a 37 per cent rise in air capacity from India into Canada, which is important to note. The travellers like the outdoors. We need the support of the PMOs and DMOs in the room. Adventure travel is highly popular.” As per statistics, Destination Canada through its market research has projected that the market size in India is 3.7 million. From the response to that finding, 78 per cent said they will definitely visit Canada in the next two years. That is a a market size of 2.9 million. “There is immense opportunities and we can work on it together,” added Vaz.

Canada’s tourism vision

On May 11, 2017, minister Bardish Chagger, launched Canada’s Tourism Vision. It’s a five-year, whole-of-government approach to increasing the number of international tourists who come to Canada by seizing the global opportunity that tourism offers.

In 2017, Canada had its best year ever for international visitors coming to Canada. Canada welcomed  20.8 million visitors from around the world in 2017 and revenue from those international visitors topped $21.3 billion. Tourism is a major driver of Canada’s economy, bringing value to Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast. Tourism is the largest service export and represents more than two per cent of GDP. Total tourism revenues from domestic and international travellers were CAD 97.4 billion in 2017. As per reports, the number of international overnight visits to Canada will increase by 30 per cent by 2021. The number of tourists from China will double by 2021. Canada will compete to be one of the top ten destinations in the world by 2025. Canada will achieve these goals by making strategic tourism investments in the areas of marketing, access and product. The Government of Canada, under the leadership of the prime minister Trudeau, has made substantial progress towards these goals.

New Signature Experiences

Destination Canada announced eight new signature experiences in 2017. These unique new experiences highlight Canada’s history and culture as well as adventurous Arctic experiences in Canada’s North. The Canadian Signature Experiences programme has grown to over 200 members.

New Canadian Signature Experiences:

  • Exploring a Canadian Landmark with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Manitoba)
  • Museum Grand Tour with the Canadian War Museum (Ontario)
  • Railtown Urban Eats Tour with Off the Eaten Track (British Columbia)
  • Winter Arctic Discovery with Inukpak Outfitting (Nunavut)
  • Arctic Circle Tour with Nature Tours of Yukon (Yukon)
  • Canadian Arctic Reindeer Signature Package with Tundra North Tours (Northwest Territories)
  • gawa Canyon Tour Train (Ontario)
  • Canyon Sainte-Anne (Quebec).

The Millennial Travel Programme, which gave Canadian and international millennial travellers a chance to experience the country, surpassed its goals. It reached 7.3 million Canadian millennials in 2017, far exceeding the programme’s goal of 4.4 million, and increased travel by millennials by 16 per cent more than tripling the targeted five per cent. Destination Canada also extended this programme to attract millennials in key foreign markets. It reached an audience of 300 million and generated 250,000 leads to partners to remarket specific tourism offerings and convert the lead to a visitor. Throughout 2017–2018, Destination Canada also continued to harness the power of digital technologies to improve its marketing efforts. Through its North Star 22 partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal marketing organisations, and in partnership with Statistics Canada, Destination Canada embarked on a project to better understand how and and where international visitors spend money in Canada and how to better segment its target audiences. Canada in 2017 translated into more than 35,000 jobs and contributed more than $2.8 billion to Canada’s GDP.

At RVC 2018, comprehensive presentations were made by every region in the country. Atlantic Canada was presented by Kelley Keefe, Atlantic Canada Tourism, representing Tourism New Brunswick, Tourism Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. Pamela Wamback, Travel Media Specialist, provided an insight into the region of Tourism Nova Scotia. Lisa Lavecchia, president and CEO, Destination Ontario, articulately introduced Destination Ontario to the media.

Québec, was represented by Alexandra Leclerc, director, international business development and Andre Martel, senior manager business development, Quebec Tourism. Travel Manitoba, was represented by Colin Ferguson, president & CEO.  Frontiers North Adventures, Assiniboine Park Conservancy, Gangler’s North Seal River Eco Adventures, Tourism Winnipeg, Clear Lake Country,  Lakeview Hotels & Lodges were well represented in the region.

Maria Greene, director of Global Partnerships, Destination British Columbia, put into perspective new itineraries and tourism attractions to be explored. Amy McInnis, manager of marketing, Tourism Saskatchewan, spoke about the region’s tourism potential. Canada’s Prairies and Parks Canada revealed the tourism promise and possibilities to explore. RVC’s closing dinner by Atlantic Canada hosted 1850 dinner guests, wherein 1.5 tonnes of fresh hard shell lobster was served by a team of 130 servers. Toronto, Ontario will host the next Rendezvous Canada 2019 from May 28 – 31, 2019.

Buyers speak

Maitreyee Vakharia, director of Pathfinders Holidays, felt that RVC 2018 was a perfect platform to experience and explore new areas of Canada. She feels Canada is certainly a premium destination for the clients and there is great potential as the destination offers various experiences at a favourable rate of exchange. According to her, it is a destination that will appeal to the maturing Indian travel market who are seeking new experiences.

Mahesh Lalla, senior manager – Leisure Travel (Outbound) Thomas Cook believes there is a lot to offer for his clientele in terms of new places in Canada. The interest towards Canada is growing but it’s for those who have already explored few other popular countries. Canada, according to him, has tremendous potential not only in summers but in early winters as well.

Zubin Khambatta, director, Shree Yash Destinations affirmed that RVC is a great tool toward promotion of Canada. “Though Canada is part of Yash’s nervous system we still feel that we could promote it better. The fall and winter markets are great too. Canada, today is a four seasons destination with people wanting to travel during fall and winter too. Thousands of turquoise blue lakes, beautiful waterfalls and lakes, millions of Christmas trees, celestial Northern Lights and great wild life, Canada is certainly a world class destination.

Ramesh Godia, CEO, Varun Worldwide Holidays mentioned, “RVC 2018 was a great eye opener for us. It gave us exposure to the lesser known regions in Canada and gave us the opportunity to network with service providers who do not have a presence in the India but are keen to work with the Indian market. We were looking to collaborate with activity providers, transporters and hotels in the less popular regions of Canada and RVC has helped us build contacts with them. Canada as a destination has had ebbs and flows when it comes to our clients. However, over the last three-four years we have seen a steady growth in the number of clients wishing to visit Canada.”

Sapneal Rao, promoter and CEO, SSR Holidays said, “For me it was the first RVC and hence a highly knowledgeable one. Direct meetings with your potential partners proved insightful, wherein one can identify the unique elements of each region  which would help in selling the destination better based on client profile and requirements. I felt there was a lot to learn and wish I had more time to learn more. I see Canada as a repeat destination for my kind of clientele. I also see it as a great opportunity for business. It’s a country where many regions are unsold and  where there is opportunity for travel experts and consultants to make money as the space is not crowded yet. Once again, RVC 2018 was a great learning and networking opportunity, which will sure help me build great business into Canada in coming years.”

Mernoz Shastri, director, Mazda Travel felt that RVC is Canada’s largest trade event connecting international buyers with Canada’s tourism industry partners. This offers a huge knowledge gathering opportunity to the buyers. “We prepare for the event well in advance and booking appointments with preferred suppliers is key to success. This is a must attend event for anyone wanting to do business with Canadian suppliers. RVC is a well structured event with appointment sessions spread over three days giving buyers opportunity to book 75 appointments with Canadian tourism partners. India is relatively a small market for Canadian suppliers. Once India generates strong visitor numbers, suppliers will be more tuned to meet and connect with India specific buyers. With direct air connectivity, we expect passenger arrivals to continue growing over the years. Canada is a winter wonderland. Learning to ski/snowboard, dog sledging, snow shoeing, ice walks, sleigh rides, snow tubing are some of the family friendly activities available during winter. We are working with our Canadian partners to showcase Canada as a year round destination. India market is fragmented and business flows through thousands of agents spread across India. Bulk of these agents have limited destination and product awareness and are blindly price driven. This is a maturing market and with its ability to generate large numbers, worldwide destinations are eager to do business in India. India is a challenging market for Canadian suppliers and demands a lot of patience and long term commitment,” said Shastri.

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