TRAVEL EN­HANCES MU­TUAL RE­SPECT AND UN­DER­STAND­ING

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - CNY1 -

Since the Chi­nese New Year, also called Spring Fes­ti­val, sym­bol­izes new be­gin­nings, it of­fers a chance to re­flect on past and future op­por­tu­ni­ties. Went­ing Yang, di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Tourist Of­fice, sees the com­ing year as an ex­cit­ing time for tourism co-op­er­a­tion and cul­tural ex­change be­tween Canada and China. “We be­lieve 2018 will be a great year for tourism for both coun­tries,” she says.

Re­cent num­bers con­firm an up­ward trend in tourism ex­change. In 2017, about 750,000 Cana­dian vis­i­tors trav­elled to China, and 620,000 Chi­nese vis­i­tors came to Canada. Along with pop­u­lar de­mand, air­lines have in­creased the num­ber of non-stop flights to China. Van­cou­ver alone is now con­nected to 13 Chi­nese cities via direct flights.

“As a coun­try with a long his­tory of thou­sands of years, China’s cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion are very dif­fer­ent from the West and from Canada, which in it­self prom­ises a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors,” says Yang. “At the same time, China is a safe coun­try for trav­el­ling, and peo­ple are very friendly and wel­com­ing.”

Many Cana­di­ans have heard about some of the main at­trac­tions, like the Great Wall of China and Em­peror Qin’s terra-cotta war­riors, but the coun­try has much more to of­fer, she adds. “Ev­ery kind of land­scape that you can imag­ine, you find in China, from desert to sea, rivers and moun­tains, vil­lages and mega-cities.”

“As of 2017, China has 52 UN­ESCO World Her­itage sites (more than any other coun­try ex­cept Italy), which in­clude 36 cul­tural her­itage sites, 12 nat­u­ral her­itage sites and four mixed cul­tural and nat­u­ral her­itage sites,” says Yang. Vis­i­tors can choose from at­trac­tions such as palaces on moun­tain­tops, gi­ant panda sanc­tu­ar­ies and tra­di­tional her­itage vil­lages.

The wide va­ri­ety of cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences and in­ex­haustible list of sights en­tice vis­i­tors to re­turn again and again, al­ways able to dis­cover some­thing new, says Yang. “While China has a very long his­tory – it is at the same time very mod­ern and de­vel­oped.”

China is also Canada’s sec­ond­largest sin­gle-na­tion trad­ing part­ner, and both coun­tries ac­knowl­edge the role of tourism not only in driv­ing eco­nomic devel­op­ment but also in con­nect­ing peo­ple and fur­ther­ing re­spect and friend­ship. “In Septem­ber 2016, our gov­ern­ments of­fi­cially named 2018 the Canada-China Year of Tourism with the in­ten­tion to cre­ate closer ties be­tween our two states and cit­i­zens,” says Yang.

SUP­PLIED

Went­ing Yang, di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Tourist Of­fice, en­vi­sions a lively tourism ex­change be­tween Canada and China in 2018.

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