CALGARY: “Canada is open for business.” That message was underlined, and stressed multiple times at the just concluded Rendezvous Canada 2017 in Calgary.
RVC2017, which was held from May 9-12 at Calgary’s BMO Centre this year, is an annual show which brings together all leading stakeholders in Canadian tourism, along with buyers from across all source markets for Canada.
Destination Canada CEO David F. Goldstein said tourism is the bright spark in the Canadian economy and outlines major achievements and goals.
“As Minister for Small Business and Tourism, I’ve had the opportunity of meeting many Canadian tourism business owners this year at RVC,” said Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She said that more international tourists choosing Canada would translate to more jobs for Canadian youth and a boost for small businesses in every region of the country.
A record number of 1,840 attendees were present at the three-day conference, which was the most in the event’s 41-year history. A mind boggling number of 29,000 pre-scheduled face-to-face business meetings kept everyone busy!
The number of buyers – 565 buyers, was also the highest number ever. China had the highest number with 101 buyers – and had a dedicated section to itself at the venue! Canada followed with 90 buyers, while the United States had 75 buyers registered, then the UK with 50, Japan with 49, South Korea (34), Germany (31), India (24), Brazil (20), Mexico (19), Australia (16), Netherlands (14), Switzerland (eight), Chile and Belgium (each with four), and France with two.
“There is a new spirit and interest in Canada,” said Goldstein. He pointed out how the previous year had been an encouraging one for the country’s tourism sector. He elaborated on the increases in the number of tourists from important source markets, such as 17% from the United Kingdom, 24% from China, 10% from USA, 16% from Australia and 12% from Germany.
“These are exciting times for the tourism industry, and our shareholders’ support is crucial to our continued success together,” exhorting the trade to put in their best effort.
Country representatives from Canada’s top source markets also made brief presentations. Besides India, this included China, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and the US.
Canada introduced visa free entry for Mexicans on December 1, 2016, This increased the rise from which saw a jump of 5% before the elimination of the visa to a bump of 70% in visitors in December 2016 compared to December 2015.
For tourism out of India, 2016 marked a record year for travel by Indians to Canada. Over 215,000 travellers went from Canada, up 13% over 2015. San Jeet, India Representative, Destination Canada, said he was looking at 227,500 Indians arrivals to Canada in 2017, a growth of 7 per cent.
According to Destination Canada’s research, a sizeable 42% of potential travellers from India expect to spend more on long haul travel in the next 12 months, marking considerable opportunity for Canada.
Destination Canada announced the Northstar 22 Pathfinder programme, a collaboration between provincial, territorial and municipal destination marketing boards to make 22 the magic number.
By 2022, the 10 provinces, three territories and eight cities (Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Quebec City and Halifax) are hoping to achieve $22 billion and 22 million visitors with combined tourism marketing at international trade shows and with foreign marketing plans.
A special highlight this edition was the The Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada, brought together 32 aboriginal tourism businesses, the most in RVC’s history.
The event also saw a number of events such as a mini-Stampede luncheon, a showcase of the city’s annual celebration of cowboy culture. Another highlight was a spectacular evening event at recently opened Studio Bell at the National Music Centre, which showcased not just the remarkable venue which houses Canadian music history and memorabilia but also unique food and drink from Calgary restaurants and bars.
RVC is at a different city each year. The next edition of RVC will be Halifax, from May 12 to 16 in 2018.
As Goldstein said, Canada is no longer being seen as a cold destination, but a cool one. RVC Canada definitely helped in establishing that image in the mind of the tourism stakeholders in an engaging way.
Musafir Namah Bureau