Rarely does a destination find the balance between practical meeting locations and standout experiences, but Canada walks the line. In fact, the dynamic and diverse country stands atop of the pile regarding both its Finance and Insurance (F&I) sectors and best-in-class incentive travel.
Most travellers could tell a story of the Canada’s icy slopes, stunning wildlife, rich culture and bustling metropolitan hubs. But how many have felt the snow beneath their boots in Banff, spied a polar bear on the frozen plains of Manitoba or listened to stories of the Inuit in Nunavut?
What many travellers to Canada will not have knowledge of is the destination’s well-established F&I credentials, with a banking system ranking second in the G20 and its economy expecting to rebound and grow 5.2% in 2021. The country’s ‘traditional’ F&I sector is one of the strongest in the world, comprised of organisations from banks and insurance companies to credit unions and pension fund managers. Find out more about the destination’s F&I sector here.
Fintech is also a burgeoning field for the F&I industry in Canada. Boasting hubs in Toronto, Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver, these cities are hot beds for tech development with numerous tech start-ups cropping up. And with this growth, there’s an increased need for supporting venture capital growth.
While travelling to Canada’s F&I destinations are a natural draw for meetings and conferences, it’s the unique incentive trips that can be paired with these events that will leave the lasting impression on clients. Here are some of the most notable incentive trips Canada has to offer for those visiting for the F&I industry.
Discover the thrill of adventure travel
Canada is known for its adventures, with high mountain peaks and trekking routes aplenty, it’s not hard to see why thrill-seekers are aften drawn to the country varied terrain.
If you’re after something truly special, remote Baffin Island, Nunavut is a great spot to get the adrenaline flowing. Here, you can try chilly yet rewarding ice diving or see the landscape from the land on a northern safari.
Ice diving in Baffin involves submersion beneath the ice to the floor of the Arctic Ocean, for a memorable experience that could see travellers see pods of narwhals, harp seals or bowhead whales. The trips also take travellers through unique landscapes, where it’s common to see polar bears, via snowmobile and qamutik (traditional Inuit sleds).
For those looking to exclusively stay above sea level, a Baffin safari allows you see it all from above on a hot air balloon trip over the Arctic. Coupled with whale watching and dog sledding, this excursion allows attendees to learn more about Inuit culture at Mittimatalik, an artistic Inuit hamlet.
Both of these tours on Baffin Island are hosted by Artic Kingdom and begin in Ottawa, Ontario. From here, visitors fly north to the island, gaining a bird’s-eye perspective before touching down in the Arctic. By starting in Ottawa, a destination for F&I meetings and conferences, these experiences are a once-in-a-lifetime and convenient way to extend a stay with some well-deserved adventure.
Canada’s cultural routes
Though adventure may be the first thing people think of when dreaming of Canada, the destination has a steeped and varied history that caters for a range of tastes. Depending on the destination, visitors can experience the unique je ne sais quoi of Québec, enjoy the serenity of Fogo Island in Newfoundland and Labrador, and immerse themselves in Indigenous cultures across the country.
In British Columbia, visitors can discover the Spirit Bear Lodge, which is situated in Klemtu, the historic home of the Kitasoo Xai’xais people, two distinct Indigenous organisations. Those onsite will have the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the region by connecting with local people and villages, while also getting involved in conservation projects that look to protect the lush region.
The lodge is a prime spot for wildlife watching, promising views of majestic creatures native to both land and sea. The biggest attraction though is the eponymous Spirit Bear. With a population of less that 150 worldwide, visitors are treated to one of nature’s rarest sites, with approximately 50% of Spirit Bear Lodge clients sighting this bear with a distinct white coat.
Further east, Québec’s largest city, Montréal, boasts a thriving cultural and food scene combined with a uniquely French atmosphere. The Taste of Montréal gives participants a slice of the city’s cuisine, from gourmet bistros to food trucks. With Montréal being one of Canada’s fintech hubs and a historic commercial centre for the country, the addition of an eclectic food scene adds a new layer of intrigue for F&I travellers to the region.
Even further East, Fogo Island sits just off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Here, the architecturally iconic Fogo Island Inn, provides a luxurious place to stay that is also deeply ingratiated in the local community. Plus, it offers up stunning vistas at the edge of North America looking out on the North Atlantic.
The Inn serves as a meeting place for the F&I industry, while also being a hub for a thriving community with hosts made up of Fogo Islanders who happily share the island’s history with visitors. The venue also boasts whale watching opportunities and views of floating icebergs, depending on the season, set to the backdrop of seemingly never-ending sunsets.
Reach the peak
A true Canadian icon, the Canadian Rockies are so much more than beautiful views. The peaks, which span across the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, are also home to four national parks, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay, which all offer up stunning natural beauty and memorable experiences.
The skiing in the Rockies is some of the best in the world. Powder days are made even better with a variety of rustic-luxe resorts in both British Columbia and Alberta, including: Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort, Lake Louise mountain Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort among others.
While the Rockies may be most famous for its lakes and views, those looking for something off the slopes as an addition to F&I meetings should look to ice climbing. Mountain adventures company, Yamnuska, offers up ice-climbing tours on various routes across the Rockies.
The tours, which are all led by skilled ice-climbers, give participants a rarely seen perspective of the mountains, while providing a suitably exhilarating experience for climbers. Routes take place across Banff, Kananaskis, Ghost River, Lake Louise and the Banff-Jasper Highway.
Planning your visit
But why Canada? And why now? If a strong F&I background combined with world-class incentive travel to service a broad array of tastes is not enough, consider that Canada has a strong route to recovery post-pandemic.
The great outdoors on offer in Canada are a welcome change for those craving to get outside once again and experience in-person activities.
From 7 September 2021, Canada will open to fully vaccinated international travellers, re-starting the meetings and events sector for international F&I visitors once more.The great outdoors on offer in Canada are a welcome change for those who have been craving in-person experiences in front of a screen for 15 months. From 7 September 2021, Canada will open to fully vaccinated international travellers, re-starting the meetings and events sector for international F&I visitors once more. Though restrictions still vary from province to province, Destination Canada provides a comprehensive overview of what organisers can expect, here.
Canada’s strong F&I industry gives those in the sector a reason to visit, but the incentive travel on offer gives them a reason to stay.
Featured Image: Banff, Canada