Canada was the place to visit in 2017, and it seems travellers agreed. Visitors to Canada celebrated alongside us during our nation’s 150th birthday as well as Montreal’s 375th — undoubtedly attracted to this country thanks to being named Best Travel Destination (Lonely Planet) and Destination of the Year (Travel + Leisure magazine). According to Statistics Canada, we welcomed a record 20.8 million tourists from around the world, the most ever in our history.
And 2018 is shaping up to be just as strong, if not stronger. The first quarter of the year, has already seen 3,096,059 visitors welcomed to our shores, an increase of almost 6.4% from the same period last year, with momentum cresting convincingly toward the peak July/August months.
“There are three reasons to believe that 2018 is poised to surpass last year’s success” explains Dan Keon, VP Market Management at Allianz Global Assistance. “One has to do with China, and others are as a result of shifts in industry or regulatory environment that are now fuelling emerging markets.
1. 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism
Designated so by the Government of Canada – with the intent of doubling the number of Chinese tourists by 2021 – there is concerted effort being placed in cultivating a stronger preference for coming to Canada. In addition, China-Canada family ties are already particularly deep, with 1.7 million Canadians with Chinese ancestry, and almost 50% of Chinese travellers coming to visit friends and relatives in Canada.
2. Travel visa restrictions to Canada removed or loosened
Visitors from Mexico and Brazil have less cross-border paperwork to worry about, as travel visas are no longer a requirement, making Canada that much more accessible. Similarly, travellers from India are now enjoying improved access to Canadian travel visas. Their growing middle class is in the midst of experiencing a surge in interest for travelling abroad.
3. More flights to Canada
Excluding American travellers, who are also apt to visit by car or RV, the majority of visitors to Canada fly in through our airports. Indeed, an increasing number of airlines are either adding more routes, or offering direct flights to Canada. This is particularly true for visitors from South Korea, which is an emerging market opportunity.
Keon suggests factoring these trends into plans to capture a share of the visitor to Canada market. “While these various influences make it easier and more attractive for travellers to visit Canada, their excitement should not get in the way of having travel insurance to protect them before their trip begins.”
Visitors to Canada travel insurance administered by Allianz Global Assistance for example, provides emergency medical coverage ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, with varying benefits, depending on the length of stay in Canada.
Sometimes, however, visitors to Canada can have varying levels of experience with travel insurance and the valuable emergency health and medical benefits that travel insurance may provide.
When working with this particular group, and their family members living here in Canada, Keon suggests travel advisors can assess this knowledge gap, first by listening for the following statements such as “Why do I need it?” Statements like this provides a great opening for an advisor to share various sudden and unforeseen scenarios when travel insurance may come in handy, such as an unexpected visit to the doctor, cost of new prescriptions as a result of an emergency health issue, or for emergency dental care.
With Canada poised to receive another 17 million+ visitors throughout the remainder of 2018, travel agents are ideally positioned to present travel insurance to visitors from China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea – along with introducing those same visitors to the very best that Canada has to offer.