Destinations

Canada is Fully Open to the World Again

The global pandemic saw a shrinking of the conference industry internationally, with many events cancelled or postponed. Some events moved online, with attendees losing out on the networking and knowledge sharing aspects that are so integral to large scale events. This also represented a significant loss in business for the conference and hospitality sectors.

Words Marc de Faoite

As each country applied its own measures in attempts to protect their citizens and visitors, international travel was fraught with difficulty. But in recent months things have begun to change. Now, with a recent lifting of restrictions, Canada’s events industry is firmly back in business.

As of October 1, 2022, all travellers, regardless of citizenship, no longer have to submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website. Nor do they need to provide proof of vaccination or undergo pre-arrival or on-arrival testing. Travellers also no longer need to carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation. Similarly, the requirement for travellers to monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada has been dropped.

Transport Canada has also removed existing travel requirements. As of October 1, 2022, travellers are no longer required to undergo health checks for travel on air and rail, or to wear masks on planes and trains.

With this lifting of COVID entry requirements, it is now easier for international delegates to attend events in Canada, making it a more attractive prospect. This increased accessibility also makes things simpler for conference organizers and event planners, giving them yet another reason to consider Canada as a destination for their next business events.

These final barriers falling mark an improved situation for all stakeholders, with plenty of opportunity for development and growth in the events industry. That said,  even with the previous restrictions still in place, Canada successfully hosted several major events throughout 2022.

Successes in 2022

In June, Toronto hosted the prestigious Collision conference, which Bloomberg labelled as “one of the world’s biggest tech conferences”. The organizers highlighted the city, saying “Toronto is making a name for itself as one of the world’s most exciting hubs for start-ups and tech companies” and adding that, “Toronto is an easy city to get around, with plenty of transportation options.”

20 June 2022; Paddy Cosgrave, CEO & Founder, Web Summit launches the event on day one on the Centre Stage during the opening night of Collision 2022 at Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada. © Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Meanwhile, in July, Canada’s capital, Ottawa, hosted the North American Congress on Biomechanics, which brought together leading scientists and researchers in all areas of biomechanics from across the world. Among them is Professor Daniel Benoit, whose work at Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Ottawa focuses on biomechanics. When speaking of the advantages of Ottawa as a venue for the event he said, “The city of Ottawa is located within the traditional unceded territory of the Anishinàbeg Algonquin Nation and has long been an important meeting place. Since several rivers join here, the area was an active transportation corridor for an astounding diversity of Indigenous [Peoples] and travellers. In fact, the city’s name is derived from the Algonquin word “Odawa,” meaning “to trade.” The Ottawa region’s identity has been influenced by many cultures, including First Nations, French, English, Scottish and Irish. Now, as Canada’s Capital, it is the perfect place for us to meet and for you to experience some of our country’s best attractions in one welcoming city.

Another major event in the Canadian convention calendar for 2022 was the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, the world’s largest ecological meeting. The event took place in Montréal’s Palais des Congrès in August and it’s no surprise that the city was chosen for such a prodigious event. For the fifth year in a row, Montréal has topped the Union of International Associations (UIA) annual list of top host cities for international conventions in the Americas. The ESA meeting theme mentioned that “innovation amidst current conditions requires dismantling harmful legacies, expanding knowledge systems, and committing to restorative practices” which made Montréal a fitting choice, since it is a sustainable tourism destination certified by the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainable Event Standards.

After a two-year hiatus, 2022 also saw the return of both of Destination Canada’s signature events: Innovate Canada, which was held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in July, and Incentive Canada, which also took place in July, in Halifax and Fox Harb’r Resort, on the Northumberland Strait, in Nova Scotia. These two events provide Destination Canada, and their partners, an opportunity to highlight and promote Canada’s immense range of offerings when it comes to sector specific meetings and events, and incentives respectively.

Additionally in 2022, Destination Canada announced the Canadian Business Events Sustainability Plan (which Boardroom explored in detail here), marking the country as a global leader when it comes to sustainable meetings. Destination Canada’s Business Events team recently unveiled the next phase of the initiative by adopting the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index). The GDS-Index is an international benchmarking process used by destinations to improve their sustainability strategies and marketing across the tourism supply chain. This move, combined with the ongoing sustainability initiatives of destinations across the country, cements Destination Canada’s commitment to a sustainable business events industry.

Open for business

To make organizing your event a smooth and seamless experience, contact the Destination Canada team for impartial insights, inspiration, and introductions. Email Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Destination Canada Business Events at Devisscher.virginie@destinationcanada.com

Even prior to the changes at the border, 2022 proved that Canada’s appeal as an event destination was enough to weather the storm and that the Canadian business events industry was robust and ready to rebound.

Now that restrictions have been fully lifted, Canada is well and truly back on the radar of organizations looking to host meaningful and memorable events.

Canada is a vast and varied country that offers the visitor a distinct and diverse array of possibilities. Home to many pristine ecosystems, its stunning natural beauty is a major draw for conference organizers and delegates alike. But the country’s appeal extends far beyond this. Canadian cities are safe and dynamic, and easily accessible from almost anywhere across the globe, while being home to sophisticated convention infrastructure and some of the world’s most welcoming people.

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