SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai
The interest of Indian tourists going to Canada has evolved over the years, they are now well aware of the different tourism products, are focused on what they want to see and ready to spend money on it. Canada and Alaska specialist Zubin Khambatta, director, Shree Yash Destinations said, “When we started business 12 years ago almost 60 to 70 per cent of the people here knew nothing beyond Toronto and Niagara Falls, we had to educate the market. Today Mumbai knows what Canada is – the attractions of eastern vs. western Canada, the Rockies and Alaska cruise, the market has evolved very well, in particular the last five-seven years. As far as Canada is concerned people focus on the western side of Canada, in particular the Canadian Rockies.” The Indian market is also opening up to new products like wildlife and nature tours. Shree Yash Destinations is also introducing to the Indian market a new exciting wildlife experience – the polar bear tour. Khambatta has also started winter tours to Canada that have the same package itineraries but include winter activities like dog sledging, snow shoeing and skiing. “You can go and see the Northern Lights – from November to March,” he informed.
“Canada is very wide, today we are not covering even 20 per cent of the market, there is still 80 per cent to be explored. We will be looking at Arctic cruises, that are high priced and cover exotic places,” said Khambatta, adding that even South East Alaska is yet to be explored by the Indian market – the land areas beyond the cruises.
Canada is also emerging as a standalone destination. “Earlier people went to Canada as an offshoot of their US holiday, but as they started travelling they realised that there were so many places to see and explore in Canada,” stated Khambatta, pointing out that the profile of the traveller has also changed, now it is not only the high end clientele but a lot of middle class people are also looking at Canada as a destination. Khambatta feels that Canada is a value for money destination, the only debilitating factor is the high airfare.
A GSA for Rocky Mountaineer, Shree Yash Destinations does bookings for other travel agents also. “We used to not do bookings for travel agents earlier but they started approaching us because of our know how since we do only Canada and Alaska. In Canada whatever offer in our package we share our first-hand experience, including hotels that range from two star to five star,” he said. Most of these travel agents are from Mumbai and Gujarat, and also a few from north and south India. Shree Yash Destinations packages range from escorted departures to guaranteed departures to fly-drive options. The minimum duration is from a week and can go up to 21 days. The packages are not fixed, but suggested programmes that can be tailormade.