A recent development in Canadian immigration policy means positive news for tourism in Toronto. I’m referring to the Canadian government’s decision to lift the mandatory visa requirement for Mexicans travelling to Canada. The policy reversal was announced by the Prime Minister in June and takes effect on December 1.
When visas became mandatory for Mexicans in 2009, the decision was announced suddenly and with inadequate support and resources for Mexicans to apply for visas. Many already had travel plans and were inconvenienced and frustrated. In the end most simply chose to travel somewhere else.
Mexico at the time was one of Toronto’s top international tourism markets, due to its burgeoning upper middle class and yearning for urban travel experiences. In 2007, Toronto had 85,000 overnight visitors from Mexico and by 2009 that number had plummeted below 20,000.
Despite the difficulties, Tourism Toronto took a long view and never let up in its promotional efforts to targeted Mexican markets and we’ve maintained a robust media relations program to keep up Toronto’s profile. Having the Pan Am Games here in 2015 was one of the motivators to keeping Toronto top of mind for Mexicans, but year-round travel from that country has huge potential and we want to tap into it. In fact the Games last summer proved to be an important platform to drive greater awareness of Toronto as Mexican media covered the Games extensively and Toronto looked its sizzling, summery best in all the coverage.
Due to continued efforts the number of overnight visitors from Mexico rose to 35,000 in 2015. We have recently renewed our efforts to stimulate meetings, convention and incentive travel in order to generate more corporate events from the Mexican market and more business for Toronto.
We weren’t the only ones who anticipated the market’s long-term potential. Air Canada has added service between Mexico and Toronto and AeroMexico also launched direct service to Mexico City last year. The Mexico market is a cornerstone of our 2017 sales and marketing strategy. Now with our partners at Destination Canada and OTMPC, we are well-positioned to reclaim a preferred position among Mexican travellers for years to come.