Speeches and Presentations

Speech to Canadian Chamber of Commerce - April 7, 2011

Speech to Canadian Chamber of Commerce
April 7, 2011


  • Thank you and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It’s such a pleasure to be here.
  • As Canada’s national tourism marketing agency, our job is to inspire travellers from 11 countries around the world to explore the extraordinary tourism experiences our country offers.
  • In 2008, Mexico ranked fifth of all CTC markets as a source of international overnight visitors. By 2010, Mexico had dropped to 10th place.
  • Today, I’m happy to say, Mexico is on the way back. I’ve been waiting almost two years to say that!
  • World events and circumstances have tested us all, but we’re getting through it.
  • Our marketing experience told us to stay close to Mexico; that we needed to keep our presence here to be ready once things turned around.  
  • Our business experience told us not to stand by and watch, but instead to offer ideas and solutions, and to help. We have great relationships here, and CTC is determined to work through tough times with our friends.
  • Our latest figures show a 27% year-on-year boost in visitor numbers from Mexico to Canada—a very encouraging rebound.
  • And consideration of a vacation in Canada is now at best-ever levels.
  • Add to that the growth forecast for 2011, which is a very positive 2.8%.
  • So, a huge gracias to those of you here today who have worked with us over the last couple of years to bring this day about—our Embassy, our industry partners, the travel trade. We’ve accomplished a lot.
  • A great deal is at stake.

- 25 million international arrivals worldwide in 1950.
- 935 million arrivals in 2010. 
- An estimated 1.6 billion international arrivals by 2020.  

  • The growth of global travel marks tourism is an astonishing economic and social phenomenon:
  • Travellers spent over one trillion dollars on tourism globally in 2009. 
  • That’s hard to imagine! Try three billion dollars a day. Or two million dollars every minute.
  • It’s no surprise that tourism has become a high-stakes game—one in which countries are competing to win. And winning countries are the ones offering exotic experiences, a strong tourism brand, great infrastructure, and effective collaboration between government and tourism partners.    
  • That’s why I’m here today, to talk about the way forward now—the winning campaigns, partnerships and projects that will build on success.
  • Our international tourism brand, Canada. Keep Exploring, is stronger than ever before. Last year Canada was ranked the most respected country brand in the world by FutureBrand, a New York-based global brand consultancy, bumping the US from the top spot.
  • And our strategy to use the 2010 Winter Games to extend the global reach of our tourism brand has succeeded beyond all expectations. Our marketing campaigns after the Games are drawing visitors from our international markets in greater numbers than ever before.
  • These results point to the growing strength of Canada’s tourism brand and its global influence.
  • To compete globally, your tourism brand has to be strong, because you never know what’s around the corner. 
  • A National Tourism Organization like CTC can be the best marketer in the world, and inspire millions of potential travellers to choose Canada. But if those travellers can’t get an airline seat or easily apply for a visa, they’ll look elsewhere.
  • CTC watches air capacity and visa competitiveness like a hawk, as both have a big impact on our marketing investments.


Air boost

  • Fortunately, air capacity is no longer a barrier to Canada for the Mexican traveller, which is why CTC is now focused on developing marketing programs with airlines to boost demand. That’s a great place to be.
  • A spring campaign opens up options with Air Canada’s new daily direct flights from Mexico City to Montréal and Vancouver, and twice daily non-stop flights to Toronto.
  • There are special deals created for this market to encourage Mexican consumers to pack their bags and head north over the next months. It’s not just confined to these urban centres: add-on options let Mexican visitors explore a lot more of Canada.
  • The campaign is online, in print and on radio and we know it will get noticed: our job is to create the buzz and serve up great Canadian experiences likehiking and biking in Banff National Park, or exploring the wineries after taking in spectacular Niagara Falls.
  • Aero México is also participating in the campaign, offering daily direct flights to Montréal. We’re very happy to hear that the airline is also considering new routes to Vancouver and Toronto in spring and summer.
  • These are awesome developments for our airline partners and for Canada. 


Visa process versus Visa progress

  • More and more, countries are viewing the visa process through a competitive lens.
  • The broad issue of visa waivers is top of the list of priorities for the new US Corporation for Travel Promotion—the American version of the Canadian Tourism Commission.
  • Meanwhile, Australia, one of the great destinations and competitors, has just introduced an online visa process to make its visa process more competitive. No fuss. The visa is linked to the passport number.
  • As we know, Canada’s visa requirement for Mexicans in July 2009 resulted in drastic decreases in tourism revenue and volume. Overall, 2010 had a decline of almost 29% Mexican visitors compared to 2009; or 120,499 overnight visitors versus 168,720 the year before.
  • So, why am I smiling? Because I’m happy to be here? Si. But also because Mexico’s recovery has been positive in the last six months.
  • We are at a turning point. It didn’t just happen.
  • This has been the result of continued and collaborative efforts on the part of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico with CTC’s team to work around and through the complexity of the visa application process. We’ve all pitched in through joint sales and marketing activities to create demand along the way.
  • It now takes less than 10 business days to obtain a visa and it’s an efficient process.
  • A Travel Express Program is in place now for those heading north for skiing, cruises, summer camps and business travel. 
  • The program is so successful it may provide best practices for other markets. How cool is that Mexico?! It’s good to be leading and not following.
  • The Embassy has also added additional Visa Application Centres in Guadalajara and Monterrey along with Mexico City. Applicants are provided quality service, including a Spanish guide on the application process. It’s great service and very welcoming.
  • The CTC is currently working with the Canadian Embassy to do more, and will be producing promotional material about the new efficiency of the visa process. This will be distributed through the travel trade.
  • All travel trade, including airlines, is being brought up to date on the visa progress.
  • I love a story that moves from Process to Progress!

CTC program plans

  • We fully appreciate the value of the travel trade here in Mexico and its critical role in increasing visitation for Canada. Our marketing strategy is focused on this relationship. We’ll continue media relations and advertising, but we see the travel trade connection as critical to future success.
  • Through our Canada Specialist Program, the CTC is working with key travel trade partners to adapt to evolving traveller preferences and create the product that fits their needs.
  • These travellers are increasingly curious to experience the unique, the unexpected and the exotic—sophisticated cities on the edge of spectacular scenery, award-winning regional cuisines, Olympic-calibre skiing, and more. They want to connect with warm and welcoming people.
  • Our Spring travel trade program, launched in March and running until late April, features attractive Air Canada pricing and a call to action to encourage springtime travel in Canada.   
  • The Spring consumer marketing campaign runs until late June. This is an awareness-based online campaign featuring urban adventures in sophisticated gateway cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal.
  • And our Summer travel trade programs will follow in conjunction with our key accounts, carrying a call to action based on special travel deals with great price points.


  • I hope I’ve illustrated for you that Canada is better positioned now, more than ever before, to compete for an increased share of the growing market of international travellers.
  • Our country’s awareness has never been higher here in Mexico, and elsewhere in the world.
  • Canada provides tourism experiences the world craves. We’re doing our best to make sure that our friends in Mexico think of us first, and come to spend time with us often.