Demand for cruise and rail holidays in Canada for 2022 is on the rise, according to the regional managing director of Destination Canada.

Speaking to Travel Weekly ahead of Rendez-vous Canada’s virtual event, RVC+, Rupert Peters, regional managing director for UK, France and Germany, also acknowledged the important role the trade will play in the post-Covid-19 tourism recovery.

“Recently what I’m hearing is that demand is picking up for 2022 and one of the key products that people are asking for are rail-cruise combinations,” he said.

“[Tour operators are] reporting that people are adding on a cruise when they might not have done before because there’s spare cash out there, saved up from the lockdown.”

Canada extended its ban on cruise ships earlier this year, but Peters said he believes that won’t affect tourism from the UK to Canada.

“Naturally we hope cruise will be reinstated once borders reopen,” he said. “That’s very much our hope.”

Peters said that the UK market is lucrative, and there will be pent-up demand for travel to many destinations around the world, not just Canada.

“We’ve got to really be smart in how we market to our target audience to make sure they think and make sure they book Canada,” he said. “A very important part of that is to work very closely with the travel trade.”

Peters said Destination Canada will be targeting customers who want to travel more sustainably, ahead of when travel to Canada restarts.

“We’re going after a higher-value traveller that wants to travel more responsibly in the future,” he said, including those who want to engage with Canadian communities and those who are keen to learn as they travel.

“We think that many travellers will be looking to escape,” he said, adding that the size and open space across Canada will be part of its appeal.

“We’ll be working very closely with our key tour operators on campaigns that really convey the message of Canada as the place for space,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Destination Canada has been using its Canada Specialist Programme to engage with travel agents. The programme will relaunch in September, as a mobile-first app-based platform.

“It’s based around a series of short bitesize modules that can really fit around any busy agent’s life,” he said.

“There’s a heavy focus on video in terms of content, and what we’ve been trying to do is bring to life what we call our legendary experiences. Anything from Niagara Falls to the CN Tower, Rocky Mountaineer… to really bring to life these legendary experiences that you can only do in Canada.”

Rendez-vous Canada is taking place this week on a virtual platform, as RVC+.