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Credit: Photos: Ilona Kauremszky

The Trafalgar Tours Canada team: Jonathan Sargeant, marketing coordinator; Maurizio Mazzola, sales manager Ontario GTA region; Doug Patterson president; Rares Dumitru, sales manager central and eastern Ontario

By Ilona Kauremszky

Toronto’s famous castle on the hill morphed into Europe this week.

The Travel Corporation and The European Travel Commission hosted an evening reception at the historic Casa Loma to showcase a little bit of what Europe has to offer to the Canadian travel trade.

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Dubbed a ‘Feast for the Senses’, guests gathered in the conservatory to enjoy drinks and brilliant menu offerings inspired by some of the countries represented. Presentations were also heard in the regal library.

Country tourism reps from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Ireland shared highlights followed by remarks from the ETC Chair for the operational group in Canada and the president of The Travel Corporation Canada.

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Europe remains a top destination with Canadians, explained Laura Pena, chair of the ETC operational group in Canada and consul in charge of tourism affairs for the Tourist Office of Spain, who noted within the past decade Canadian tourism arrivals have increased 4.3 percent.

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Jeff Element, president of The Travel Corporation Canada, whose company has 25-plus brands in Canada, focused on their coach products that appeal to clients with different budgets through various stages of life. “At Travel Corporation we are lucky to say we cover the full life cycle of the traveller,” he said.

“We start off with Contiki Holidays. Maybe it’s your first trip out onto the world on your own,” he conveyed, adding that clients might meet someone on that trip, get married and go out on their honeymoon or anniversary on Trafalgar Tours. “It does happen.”

Family journeys are shared on Trafalgar’s Family Experiences and years later the children are ready to embark on their own Contiki holiday while their parents can enjoy the journeys from Insight Vacations, which appeals to a higher-aged demographic.

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From the country tourism representatives, guests heard how Milan is revving up for the Milan Expo, which will be taking place from May 1 to October 31. “They have already sold nine million tickets,” said Aquilino Stefano Liguori from the Italian Government Tourist Board.

Switzerland has the fabled Lavaux wine region, which remains a top draw even with the Swiss, while the other countries like Germany, Ireland and Spain are staging huge culinary offerings.

Ireland has plenty of gastronomic delights available in quaint locations. “Things are picked here—not shipped here,” says Dana Welch, marketing manager in Canada with Tourism Ireland.

Meanwhile the foodie bastion of Spain boasts eight 3-Michelin starred restaurants and is ranked as the third most visited country in the world. In keeping with Germany’s tourism theme of traditions and customs, agents got a snapshot on the country’s vibrant culinary scene that included the popular ‘currywurst’ in Berlin to the plethora of upscale Michelin-starred restaurants.  

“There’s still time to book Europe,” concluded Element, who noted that discounts and a strong Canadian dollar this year is making Europe a favourite destination. “There’s no time like now to see Europe.”

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