Destination Canada is targeting a 5% increase in UK visitor numbers this year after revealing a 17% hike in arrivals from the UK in 2016.
A total of 833,329 arrivals from the UK last year contributed to an overall total of 19.98 million visitors, Canada’s best performance for 14 years and just 0.4% below the record number set in 2002.
David Goldstein, chief executive of Destination Canada, said: “The UK is our second largest market after the US and to see that kind of growth is really spectacular.
“We have set ourselves a conservative growth target of 5% in 2017, but speaking to our partners in the trade we believe there is an opportunity to exceed that.”
Goldstein credited ongoing marketing and trade activity and an increase in airlift for the positive momentum.
“We have seen an unprecedented number of seats in the market, with WestJet alone bringing 200,000 seats onto routes between the UK and Canada,” he said.
“The exchange rate message is not as strong in the UK as it is in other source markets, so our focus has really been on painting a distinct picture of what Canada has to offer.”
As part of its growth plans, Destination Canada is aiming to increase the number of UK agents signed up to its revamped Canada Specialist training programme from 1,000 to 2,000. It has developed a range of promotional activities including sending marketing materials to agents that complete the course.
It will also host 60 UK agents on a megafam later this year, in addition to holding roadshows and webinars and adding more content on its online platforms.
Rupert Peters, UK managing director, said average length of stay for UK visitors had increased from 12 to 14 days, but the increased airlift also presented greater opportunities for shorter visits including city breaks.
He added: “The travel trade is central to our strategy, so we are ensuring our trade partners have all the knowledge they need to sell Canada to their customers.”