The government of Canada has unveiled its New Tourism Vision, a 20-point plan that aims to increase the number of international tourists coming to the country by 30 percent by 2021. As part of this plan, the government has set an even higher target for the Chinese market, with plans in place to double the number of Chinese tourists coming to Canada over the next four years.
If these targets are met, Canada would be on track to be one of the top 10 most visited countries in the world by 2025. Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Bardish Chaggar, was on hand at the Rendez-vous Canada trade show in Calgary on May 11 to showcase the government’s strategy.
For would-be tourists, the product is already in place. The New York Times, Lonely Planet and Condé Nast all recognized Canada as the top international destination for 2017. Canada is world-renowned for its beautiful landscapes, bustling cities, welcoming culture, and international festivals. Add to that a world-class culinary scene, a stable and secure environment, and more besides, and it’s no wonder that tourism numbers to the country have been on the rise over recent years.
In 2015, the number of international visitors to Canada grew by 7.5 percent to reach 17.8 million. In 2016, the country welcomed nearly 20 million tourists, a further increase of 11 percent. At this rate, an overall increase of 30 percent between now and 2021 is within reach.
But how will the country get there, and how will it get those visitors here? Through New Tourism Vision, the government will increase funding for marketing, support the renewal of products and services already on offer, and make Canada easier to access for international travelers.
“Through our government’s New Tourism Vision, we have a clear plan to build on this success and showcase our beautiful landscapes, incredible experiences and unique culture to the world,” stated Minister Chaggar.
In addition to Chinese visitors, the government will fund marketing exercises to entice more American visitors. As Canada’s neighbour, the U.S. leisure market already accounts for 70 per cent of overnight visitors to Canada, and is Canada’s single largest source of international tourists.
Other more practical changes that are well underway include expanding the electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system to new markets; recently, eligible Brazilians, Bulgarians, and Romanians can benefit from the visa-exempt system, and Mexican nationals are now required to obtain an eTA before flying to Canada, rather than a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).
In addition, Canada is expanding its network of visa application centres (VACs). In China, for example, Canada will open seven new Visa Application Centres —more than double the current number. These new VACs will help to increase the numbers of visitors from China during the 2018 Canada–China Year of Tourism.
Apart from American citizens and a select few other individuals, visitors to Canada require either an eTA or a TRV before boarding their flight to Canada.
“Anyone who has been to the Canadian province of Ontario may remember that vehicle license plates have the phrase ‘Yours to Discover’ written across them. The same could be said for the country as a whole — from coast to coast to coast, this land truly is yours to discover,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“But visitors to Canada should be aware of the entry requirements for their nationality, for example whether they need a Temporary Resident Visa or an electronic Travel Authorization before departure. There are potential snags and delays in both processes, so it is imperative to know about the requirements and act accordingly before taking your trip.”
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