Published on : Tuesday, February 11, 2014
America and Central America are trying to get closer in more ways than one. Canada and Mexico are initiating new air travel measures that should boost tourism and business opportunities between the two countries, according to Mexico’s ambassador.
Mexican ambassador Francisco Suarez said the change is among the initiatives that could come up when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto meet in Mexico next week.
The two leaders will be joined by U.S. President Barack Obama on February 19 for a trilateral summit that is expected to focus on economic co-operation in the region.
In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Suarez said easing restrictions on air travel should increase the number of direct flights between Mexican and Canadian cities, benefiting both tourists and business travellers.
Canada and Mexico initially reached an expanded agreement on the issue in 2011 but due to various reasons are yet to ratify the deal.
The ambassador said he is particularly hopeful that direct flights will open up between Mexico City and Calgary because he expects the Canadian city to become an important hub for Mexican energy companies seeking outside expertise.
Mexico, which has significant shale-gas deposits and a strong potential for deep-water oil production, recently opened its energy sector to foreign investment after decades of state control.
But Mr. Suarez added that as long as a visa requirement remains in place for Mexican travellers, any increase in flight traffic will be disproportionately in Mexico’s favour.
Mexicans have needed visas to travel to Canada since 2009, a restriction that has been criticized as a roadblock to advancing relations between the two countries.
However, Mr. Suarez said Mexico would not allow questions about visa requirements to detract from next week’s talks and would instead keep the focus on the “big picture” of trade and investment in North America.
Mr. Suarez spoke enthusiastically about new opportunities for Canadian businesses in Mexico, adding that his government is eager to work with Canada on regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Mr. Suarez said Mexico and Canada are also working on an agreement to provide financing for small and medium businesses.
And he said efforts are under way to strengthen links between Canada, Mexico and the United States on higher education, including more opportunities for student exchanges.
A spokeswoman for Canadian Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander said the visa requirement was imposed on Mexico to protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration and refugee system, and declined to comment on any possible changes to the current rules.
Tags: Mexico to intensify air travel to boost tourism, Travel Destination News