Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, have announced that 2012 was a record year for Indian travellers to Canada.
Minister of State Bernier highlighted the fact that in 2012, Canada issued more than 130,000 visas and more than 13,000 study permits to Indian citizens.
"Indian travellers are among our top ten international travellers to visit Canada," said Bernier. This represents a 58-percent increase in visas and a 530-percent increase in student permits since 2004.
"Our government is working with industry to capitalize on this growth, to welcome even more Indian travellers and to create jobs and growth in Canada, while strengthening our relationship with our Indian visitors," added the minister.
"Attracting an increasing number of visitors to Canada, including the best and brightest young minds, is part of our plan to grow the economy and create jobs," said Minister Kenney.
"We strive to issue visas and permits as quickly as possible to facilitate travel for visitors and students and to benefit from the economic spinoff they bring to Canada," Kenney added.
Recent actions taken by the Harper Government have made it easier for Indians to visit Canada. In November 2012, Prime Minister Harper announced plans to open a new consulate in Bangalore.
The Harper Government has also made significant improvements to the visa application process. The period for which multiple-entry visas are valid was extended from 5 years to 10 years, which allows visitors to enter and exit Canada for up to 6 months at a time over 10 years.
Additionally, significant improvements to the Canada–India bilateral air transport agreement were made in June 2011 and July 2012, specifically in terms of the number of flights permitted, access to additional cities and greater pricing flexibility for airlines.
"The record number of visas issued last year is a great signal to Indian travellers that Canada is open for business,” said David Goldstein, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
"We support the efforts of the government in facilitating the visa process for these potential visitors and in helping grow our share of this vital emerging tourism market," David added.
By ITR Staff