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Monday, 23 June, 2014, 17 : 45 PM [IST]

A Rendezvous in Canada

anurag_yadav_new.jpgTwo years from now, Canada is set to celebrate 150 years of its existence. Planning is already underway to make it a memorable year-long celebration in 2017. Though Canada has seen the best conversion rates for potential versus results in Germany, India, according to Manager-Research, Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is a huge potential market with expected growth of 1.5 per cent and the aim is to further strengthen the growth.

There are real lessons even India can draw from the unique ways in which Canada attempts to reach out to growing markets. CTC has taken a new initiative in China with the launch of a major new innovative content marketing initiative. Started June 5, Chinese consumers now enjoy CTCTV, an online biweekly TV programme covering travel in Canada and related lifestyle topics. A similar initiative could also be undertaken in India as it is a sure-fire tool to reach a large percentage of potential tourists in countries as large as China or India. Since the project has just launched in China, CTC will observe its effect before they repeat it in India.

vancouver_convention_centre.jpgGreg Klassen, CEO, Canadian Tourism Commission was full of hope and optimism for the future at the annual Rendezvous Canada 2014 event, held in Vancouver in May 2014. The buyer-seller event, which is now in its 33rd edition, showcased Canada to the travel industry across the world. Indian participation in the event has grown steadily over the years and almost 30 tourism professionals from the country participated this year.

The Indian market has grown rapidly in the past five years, ever since CTC started investing in the country. Last year 182,000 Indians visited Canada and despite the weak rupee, the enthusiasm has not really flagged as such. Klassen pointed out that he perceived a new found energy, especially towards tourism, in the new government in India and remarked that the signals seemed very positive for outbound travel from India as well.

Siobhan Chretien, Regional Managing Director, Americas & India, Canadian Tourism Commission, reiterated that India is number three in tourist spend but China continues to be the numero uno in outbound numbers as well. However, she stressed that her efforts are clearly geared to encourage and educate the travel trade in India to know more about the country. Hence, as of now, keeping the variety of the market and its vast geographical spread, CTC will focus on travel agents and tour operators for its marketing and promotional efforts in India. The emphasis remains on  marketing Canada as a year-round destination through joint marketing initiatives, travel agent training, sales activities and FAMs for first-hand experiences.

greg_klassen.jpgGreg Klassen, CEO, Canadian Tourism Commission
“We are very keen to explore what it will take to invite Indian travel trade associations to hold their annual conventions in Canada. This would be a fantastic opportunity and we want to look at this seriously.”
siobhan_chretien.jpgSiobhan Chretien, Regional Managing Director, Americas & India, Canadian Tourism Commission
“Among other things, we would be interested in select educational fairs if there is someone in India who is actively selling it. If it offers a direct opportunity to market Canada to students, it could be a good strategy as there is a definite potential for a wider travel promotion for attracting family and friends of those who come to Canada for studies.”

 However, CTC is also exploring newer avenues of reaching out to the consumers. “We do need to invest with other partners in India to target direct consumers. However, we are quite clear that the process and tools will be definitely in the social media sphere as Indians are quite adept at and comfortable with it, at least those whom we see as our target consumers,” stated Klassen.

Youth Tourism is now a key area on which CTC is setting its sights in international markets. With India as the storehouse of ‘awesome’ youth energy, this segment is in the cross hairs of the Canada tourism authorities. An effective and steady strategy is being devised to leverage this potential and efforts are already underway to research it better before starting any campaign or initiative.

indian_delegation_with_ctc_officials_at_rendezvous_canada_2014.jpgInternationally there is a high youth attraction for Canada and attracting students who are studying in the country to explore it further is definitely a clear strategy, especially since there is also a regular inflow of family and friends who visit them during their stay there. The efforts will also be to tap the visitors who arrive for visiting the Indian diaspora in the country which forms a sizeable number. Klassen said that CTC is aware of the competition for the Indian outbound pie and is also looking into exploring if some Indian travel industry associations could be enticed to hold their annual conventions in Canada at some point.

Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), was quite upbeat about the growth of the destination in India and he said that he sees a 15 per cent increase in the outbound from India to Canada. And almost all from the association who were part of the Indian delegation at the event echoed his sentiments that the promise will indeed come to pass. Now that would be something!

(The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi)
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