Address by Minister of State Ablonczy to the Travel and Vacation Show

March 9, 2013 - Ottawa

Check Against Delivery

Thank you ladies and gentlemen—and welcome to the 2013 Travel and Vacation Show.

Friends, the very fact that you are here today tells me that you, like so many other Canadians, are affected by what the Germans call wanderlust.

The word describes the powerful desire to wander, to travel and to explore the world.

It is the urge that you get in the middle of a Canadian winter to feel the Caribbean sand between your toes...

That longing to hear a Mexican mariachi band trumpet out their joyful melodies...

Or that craving to sip juice made with freshly squeezed Florida oranges in the shade of the very tree from which they were plucked.

Yes, there is no doubt, Canadians love to travel.

And we are travelling more and more. In the past five years, trips outside the country have increased by 15 percent.

In fact, in 2011, Canadians took an amazing 59 million trips outside the country to vacation, study, work and live.

Our government has many services and programs to help Canadians abroad travel smarter and safer, and we are committed to ensuring that Canadians get the timely information they need, wherever they are in the world.

That’s why, in November, I was pleased to launch Travel.gc.ca, the single authoritative and comprehensive source for all government-related travel information—from smart packing tips to Canada-U.S. border waiting times, and from travel reports and warnings to health fact sheets and so much more.

Travel.gc.ca integrates regularly updated content and resources from 11 government partners to help Canadians find the information they need easily and efficiently and make informed decisions about international travel.

And of course, because we know Canadians are a tech-savvy bunch, Travel.gc.ca is supported by social media tools like Twitter and Facebook channels, and the Travel Smart mobile app.

I am so happy to report that the response from Canadians to this new initiative has been overwhelmingly positive.

Millions of Canadians have already visited the website.

We have already exceeded our original goal for this year much more quickly than anticipated, with 2,000 social media followers.

Building on the success of the social media components of the website, and in advance of the busy spring break travel season, I am pleased to announce that today we are launching a Travel.gc.ca Foursquare account.

Foursquare, as you may know, is a location-based social web and mobile platform that allows users to “check in” at venues around the world to connect with friends, brands and places.

So when registered users check in at, say, an airport, hotel or tourist attraction abroad, they will receive location-specific tips and information from Travel.gc.ca.

Pulling up at a busy U.S. border crossing? The Travel.gc.ca Foursquare account can help you find out what the current wait time is.

Arriving at Punta Cana airport for a spring break escape? Foursquare will remind you of the Canadian embassy’s phone number—just in case.

For a demonstration, I invite everyone to head on over to the Travel.gc.ca information booth where Rosemary [Wrong, Deputy Director of Consular Outreach and Partnerships Programs] and her team will be happy to walk you through it.

It is true that Canadians have many reasons to feel safe at home. However, that bubble of safety does not always extend beyond Canada’s borders.

That's why our government continuously works with others around the world to get the best, most up-to-date information for travelling Canadians, should disaster strike.

I myself have visited national emergency offices in Chile, China and India to experience first-hand this two-way consultation in action.

And, of course, we also encourage all Canadians who travel abroad to read up and register before departure and reach out if they run in to problems on the road: we call those the “three Rs” of international travel.

Here are some more “Rs” for you: I believe it was author J.R.R. Tolkien who said, “not all those who wander are lost.”

Indeed, the vast majority of Canadians travelling, working, studying or living abroad encounter no difficulties while they are away.

But should you need it, Travel.gc.ca helps ensure we will be there for you.

Most of all, though, the site is designed to help you enjoy your trip as much as possible.

I invite you to use the features to check the weather, find out your shopping exemptions or track down the right travel documents.

Preparation is the key to successful travel. Travel.gc.ca will help you get the most out of your adventure.

As we head into a busy spring break travel season, it is your one-stop source for everything you need to know before, during and after your trip.

So indulge your wanderlust. Visit Travel.gc.ca, pack the app, and check in to Foursquare.

Thank you very much.