Canadian Bollywood star Akshay Kumar is the new tourism ambassador for India

The Honourable Rob Moore, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), along with the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today welcomed Akshay Kumar, a leading film and pop star in India, as the Canadian Tourism Commission’s (CTC’s) new tourism ambassador for India.

Mr. Kumar has agreed to leverage his celebrity status in India to promote Canada as a premier destination to his fans on behalf of the CTC. Mr. Kumar, who has enjoyed a strong relationship with Canada since his first visit in 1995, will act as the CTC’s ambassador for India through 2010 and 2011. The partnership will involve promotional appearances in India and Canada, as well as familiarization trips across Canada, which will be captured for local and Indian media in video and blog posts.

“Our government is thrilled to welcome Mr. Kumar as the CTC’s new tourism ambassador for India. He will play a key role in showcasing all that Canada has to offer as a top tourism destination,” said Minister of State Moore. “We are inviting Indian travellers to see and experience Canada in a whole new way.”

“India has long been a friend to Canada with close ties in commerce, industry and tourism,” said the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. “I have long known Mr. Kumar, and without a doubt an international star of his calibre will help showcase all the best Canada has to offer to India.”

While in Mumbai last November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Mr. Kumar the Indian ambassador for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Mr. Kumar carried the torch for Canada in Toronto during the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.

“Through Budget 2010: Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth, our government invested in the revitalization of tourist attractions and the promotion of Canada around the world,” said Minister Baird. “Our government is taking decisive actions to support economic growth for families and businesses now and for years to come.”

Over the past 15 years, travel from India to Canada has grown by almost 100 percent. Indian tourists spent more than $122 million in Canada in 2008.

“Tourism is a significant economic driver,” said Minister of State Moore. “India has been identified as a key tourism market for Canada. That is why our government, through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, is investing in tourism to promote Canada in priority international markets, such as India.”

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