Toronto targets Delhi, Mumbai for tourists in coming years

Toronto, Oct 8 (Calcutta Tube) Buoyed up by a big increase in tourists from India this year, Toronto is targeting New Delhi and Mumbai to woo more visitors in the coming years.

‘We get about 10 million visitors each year. Because of the economic downturn, there has been a bit of decline in the number of visitors from the US, but the number of visitors from India, China and Brazil have gone up considerably,” Andrew Weir, vice president of Tourism Toronto, told IANS.

‘In fact, our tourist traffic this July from India went up by 20 percent compared to the same period last year. Since we had about 50,000 tourists from India in 2009, these numbers will go up at least 20 percent this year,” Weir said.

Though Toronto gets a vast majority of its tourists from the US, he said, ‘Canada’s biggest city has been trying to diversify for the past five to six years. As competition for tourists increases, growth in our tourism will come only from countries like India, China and Brazil.”

As the city is the gateway to Canada, he said Toronto Tourism is adopting a multi-pronged approach to woo tourists from Delhi and Mumbai.

‘Our approach is very city-focussed. Identifying urban travellers from Mumbai and Delhi is high on our list. We have hosted the Indian media (last month) to raise awareness about the city’s potential as a tourist destination. The International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFFA) here next year will also bring attention to the city,” Weir said.

As part of their drive to woo Indian tourists, he said Toronto Tourism also took a mission to India in March. ‘We met about 80 tourist operators and talked about Toronto’s potential and what we could offer them to sell Canada in India. In July, we had eight Indian tourist operators here.”

Since most Indians prefer to travel as a unit, he said, ‘Toronto has a lot to offer them from the standpoint of family (vacations). We have the unique Wonderland amusement park, Ontario Place, CNE Tower, ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), Science Centre and proximity to the Niagara Falls.

‘It is a very busy place, with its Chinatown, Greektown, Indian Bazaar, etc, etc. They are all very close and shopping is a great experience in this city.”

The Toronto Tourism official said they were leveraging the strength of the huge South Asian community to woo tourists from India.

‘Indian film making takes place here quite regularly. A number of south Asian festivals bring us top artists here, and the Art Gallery is bringing the exhibition ‘Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts’ in November.”

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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