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Starting Dec. 1, 2016, entry requirements for Mexican citizens travelling to Canada will become considerably less onerous. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, today, announced that Canada will lift visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada, during Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's two-day state visit to Canada.
"Canada is pleased to deliver on the government's commitment to lift the visa requirement for Mexican nationals," said Prime Minister Trudeau. "We look forward to the social and economic benefits that lifting the visa requirement will bring to both countries, especially to the middle class here in Canada."
In a press release, Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister and applauded Canada's leadership as "progressive, visionary and open to the world."
"The ties between our societies are increasingly more intense and dynamic," said President Peña. "So I recognize the decision of the Government of Canada to eliminate visa requirement for Mexicans starting Dec. 1. This barrier has been in place since 2009, and today we are tearing it down."
Tourism Industry Reaction
Airlines, airports and other tourism officials are also celebrating the decision.
"Canada's major airlines recognize the importance of balancing the integrity of our immigration laws on one hand and the benefits associated with making it easier to visit and do business in Canada on the other hand," said Marc-André O'Rourke, executive director of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC).
The Hotel Association of Canada also applauds the move.
"This measure to lift the Visa requirement will greatly benefit Canadian hotels particularly during the shoulder and off season," said Tony Pollard, HAC President.
Figures compiled by the HAC reflect 2014 173,000 Mexicans visiting Canada in 2014, an increase of 14 per cent over the previous year. In March of thsi year, Canada welcomed 21,469 Mexicans, an increase of 54 per cent over last March.
"These numbers are expected to grow incrementally with the changes to Visas and the introduction of new direct and daily air service to Canada" added Pollard.
Not surprisingly, Vancouver Airport Authority, which could stand to see substantial increases in traffic from Mexico is also celebrating the decision.
"Mexico is a vibrant and growing market for Canada and we are thrilled to see the visa requirements lifted," said Craig Richmond, president and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. "We welcome measures that open up Canada to more tourists and trade; making it easier to travel to and from our country."
Five airlines offer non-stop service between YVR and Mexico: Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Air Transat and Aeromexico. Jointly, the carriers offer nearly 70 weekly flights to eight destinations, accounting for more than a half million seats annually.
The newest service to connect Vancouver to Mexico launched in May 2015, when Aeromexico began daily, non-stop flights to Mexico City.
"Once the cumbersome regulations are lifted we anticipate visitor numbers from Mexico will increase," said Richmond. "Whenever we ease entry requirements, add new flights or welcome larger aircraft, the entire province and ultimately country benefits from higher tourism spending, increased tax revenue and creation of new jobs."
When complete, the visa waiver will not only serve to attract more visitors to Canada, but it will almost certainly increase the number of passengers making connections through Vancouver on their way to Asia. The shortest routes between Mexico and Asia pass over North America's Pacific coastline. Currently, Asia-bound travellers from Mexico must obtain a visa for either Canada or the United States, just for making a connection in either country. With visa-free connections, YVR will become one of the most convenient airports in North America for Mexicans travelling on to Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.
Good for Trade
The expanded relationship with Mexico is also good for trade, in particular due to amended beef import requirements, which will mean a full range of Canadian beef products are eligible to be shipped to Mexico.
"Canada's beef and veal industry is grateful for the hard work and dedication of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay for working to secure greater market access in Mexico for Canadian beef and veal," said Rob Meijer, President of Canada Beef. "Our loyal Canadian brand partners in Mexico will now have a more diversified offering of our world class protein."
Mexico is the third-largest export customer for Canadian beef. Karisma Hotels, a popular all-inclusive hotel brand in Mexico, celebrates the product during its annual Canadian Beef Culinary Series.
Canadian officials are now working with their counterparts from Mexico to hammer out all the details. Through Nov. 30, 2016, the visa requirement will remain in place for travellers from Mexico, and more information on visa-free travel will be provided as the Dec. 1 deadline approaches.
After the deadline, visitors from Mexico will still require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly or transit through Canada. Applying for the eTA is a simple online process that takes only a few minutes to complete and costs just C$ 7. All visa-exempt foreign nationals, except for U.S. citizens, must have the eTA to visit or fly through Canada. Mexicans wanting to work or study in Canada will still need to apply for the proper permits after the visa restriction have been lifted.
In general, visitors usually allowed to stay six-months from the day they enter Canada, although occasionally the Border Services Officer will authorize a shorter stay, which they notate in the visitor's passport.
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