The Two Faces of Tourism: Canada
Salloum, Habeeb, Contemporary Review
Editor's Note: Modern tourism is a two-way street with many countries both welcoming tourists as well as sending their own people abroad as tourists. In this first of two articles a senior Canadian travel writer reflects on this process in his own country.
'WHY are you travelling the world when you live in one of the best countries on the globe? You can travel all your life in this country and you will never be able to see everything', my colleague advised when I informed him that I was leaving on my seventh trip for the year.
Now, when I reflect on his words, even though they did not stop me from travelling to far-away places, his advice had a great deal of merit. The second largest country in the world, Canada encompasses towering mountains, vast plains, endless stretches of forests and tundra landscape, countless lakes and rivers, unending ice fields, and the most modern of cities on earth with twenty-first-century tourist facilities. Its population, made up of immigrants from the four corners of the world, makes it, indeed, a country that has almost everything, of course, with the exception of a tropical climate.
A land of vast distances and rich natural resources with an area of 9,978,653 sq km (3,851,790 sq miles), Canada is the second largest country in the world, equal in area to the continent of Europe and only exceeded in size by Russia. Extending across the northern part of North America, it is thinly settled with a population of some 32 million, a little more than that of Mexico City--about 75 per cent living within 200 km (125 miles) north of the US border. Due to Canada's rugged terrain and a severe climate a good part of the remainder of the country is inhabited by only a few small communities, scattered across the vast landscape.
The Indigenous Peoples, the French and the British form the majority of the population giving the country a complex three-dimensional base. However, the more than one quarter of the population originating from other lands with their plethora of traditions, as well as the constant infusion of US culture, enriches this base and gives the nation a thriving multicultural society.
Canada's formal ties to the British Crown and the diversity of its inhabitants, along with the uniqueness of Quebec, offering tourists their own North American-developed French culture, have made Canada a mecca for travellers. No matter what destination most visitors choose, they will likely feel at home, especially in the country's urban centres.
In the early 1990s, the United Nations ranked Canada as the best country in the world in which to live and this reputation is known to a good number of the visitors. Canada's relatively open immigration policy after the Second World War has also aided in making the country appealing to travellers from other lands. One has only to look at the streets of Toronto and see its inhabitants milling around with visitors from America, Europe and beyond, seemingly as one people, to understand that the country is a tourist destination par excellence.
A friend of mine who hails from Morocco, upon asking him if he enjoyed his stay in Toronto replied: 'I love your country! Remember what you told me when you were visiting Morocco: "In Toronto, you can eat a different type of ethnic food every day of the year and still not run out of new restaurants to try". Well, during my month's stay in your city, I have tried a good number of these eating-places. It's like travelling the whole world on a gourmet journey.'
Far away from the large cities are the less traversed areas like Canada's great North, at the fringes of the inhabited world. A land of vast distances and of natural spectacular beauty, inhabited by a sparse population but hospitable people, it offers great challenges and thrilling experiences. Tourists are travelling to Canada in droves to enjoy these wide choices. From some of the best hunting and fishing in the world to enjoying the winter snow, visitors can always find their vacation desires. …