We Want More Indians To Discover Our Country: Canadas Tourism Minister

25 May 2013

Immigration News

Canada's minister of state (small business and tourism) Maxime Bernier's recent visit to the capital was aimed to increase bilateral ties between India and Canada. In an interview with Meenakshi Sinha, Bernier explains why the Indian tourist is important to Canada.

What entails your India visit and what's on the agenda?

Canada and India have longstanding bilateral relations, built upon shared values of democracy, pluralism and strong people-to-people links. Our relations are strengthened through travel, trade, education and immigration encouraging mutual respect and understanding. Canada also draws great advantage from having such a thriving Indian community of its own, which helps expand our relationships with India.

During my visit I met my counterpart K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, to discuss how India and Canada can work together to facilitate travel and trade between the two countries. The minister presented me with a memorandum of understanding with exciting potential areas of collaboration including educating Indian students in hospitality services at our Canadian colleges and universities. We also looked at business to business meetings in Canada like Focus Canada-India.

How does Canada view India as a tourism sector visa vie the international/global market trends?

India is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world and has enormous potential as a tourism market for Canada. That's because it continues its impressive development; its middle class is expected to grow rapidly in size and wealth. International travel and tourism research predicts that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Therefore, Indian travellers represent a significantly growing market for Canada.

What's the flow of Indian tourists to Canada? Please give figures/data where necessary?

Last year, Canada welcomed a record number of Indian travellers (over 1,53,400 visits) eager to discover our vibrant cities, natural landscapes and to visit family and friends. Year after year, Indian travellers are among our top ten international travellers to visit Canada. Our government is working hard to capitalize on this growth by welcoming even more Indian travellers to Canada by creating jobs and growth.

Also, according to the Indian Government, India received over 260, 000 Canadian travellers in 2011. Tourism between India and Canada has grown over the past number of years which represents tremendous opportunities for tourism operators for both countries. Travel, like trade, has an interesting quality since it almost always leads to mutual benefit of respective country.

How many visa allotments you give to Indians travelling to Canada than those to UK or Europe?

Indian travellers represent a significantly growing market for Canada. New Delhi is our largest office abroad. It processes visas faster than any other Canadian office in the world. Canada issued a record number of over 130,000 visitor visas and over 13,000 study permits for India in 2012. The number of visitor visas issued in 2012 represents an increase of 58% since 2004. The number of study permits represents an increase of over 530% since 2004. This steady increase over the last few years reaffirms the fact that Canada continues to be a destination of choice for visitors and students from India.

The goal of the mission is straightforward: We want more Indians and their families to discover everything Canada has to offer: vibrant cities, great shopping, new cultural experiences, world-class cuisine and our amazing natural landscapes.

So what incentives/attractions you aim to provide towards attracting more Indian tourists?

There are literally hundreds of exciting festivals and events that take place in every region of Canada throughout the year. Whether it's festivals of arts and theatre, hot air balloons and fireworks — or events devoted to ice, snow and all-things winter —Canada promises to deliver unique experiences that appeal to every taste and type of traveller.

What future do you see in strengthening bilateral ties through tourism?

Canada greatly values its relationship with India. The Canadian Tourist Centre will continue to connect Indian business people to the best travel adventures that Canada has to offer. For this, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced our government's plans to open another consulate in Bangalore with a full range of consular services to facilitate travel including visas. Canada's network of visa application centres, consulates and the high commission based in Delhi is the largest and fastest in the world.

Also, Indians and Canadians need fast and efficient air travel to visit our respective countries in comfort. In the last two years, our countries have made significant improvements in bilateral air transport agreement: increasing the number of flights permited, access to additional cities and agreeing-upon pricing provisions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have committed to further expansion of this agreement to ensure that our airlines continue to respond to the needs of Canadian and Indian travellers and shippers.



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