Chinese travel to Canada is growing fast and branching out. And new flights and visa centers will likely charm even more visitors. Erik Nilsson and Yang Feiyue report.
Roughly 590 million Chinese will tour during the National Day holiday, up 12 percent over last year, said a report by the China Tourism Academy.
Agrowing number of Chinese are discovering Canada offers much more than moose, maples and mountains.
Chinese travel to the country is surging like Niagara Falls — and seems set to flow faster, further and farther, especially following Premier Li Keqiang’s recent state visit to the North American nation.
The two countries released a joint statement on Friday, calling for expanded cooperation in tourism among other areas.
That’s following PrimeMinister Justin Trudeau’s first official visit to China last month, when both countries’ leaders announced 2018 will be the Year of China-Canada Tourism.
Chinese travel to Canada increased 24 percent in the first six months of this year, making China the third-biggest source country of inbound tourists after the United States and Britain, Canada’s ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told media earlier. France previously held the No 3 spot.
More than 600,000 Chinese visited in the first three months, up 20 percent over the same period last year, Canada’s tourism authority reports.
Over half a million Chinese visitors injected over $1 billion in Canada’s economy in 2015, the Canada Immigration Newsletter says. It is estimates spending will rise to $1.5 billion and Chinese visitors will support 10,700 jobs by the end of 2016.
Nearly 1.3 million people traveled between both nations in 2015, Xinhua News Agency reports.
The takeoff has largely been propelled by enhanced flight connectivity and the recently introduced reciprocal 10-year multiple-entry visa program.
Flights added this summer have brought the number of Chinese cities with direct routes to Canada to 11. Capacity is expected to further increase by 38 percent by the end of the year, with 388,000 additional seats on 4,560 flights, the newsletter reports.
Chinese visits to Montreal alone increased 200 percent following the 2015 launch of direct fights between Beijing and Montreal.
Canada has confirmed plans to open seven new visa centers throughout China next year, as part of the Year of China-Canada Tourism agreement.
The specific locations have not been announced.
But five cities were proposed during an official visit to China by Canadian Minister of Immigration John McCallum this summer, the newsletter reports.
They are Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu; Jiangsu’s provincial capital, Nanjing; Hubei’s provincial capital, Wuhan; Shandong’s provincial capital, Jinan; and Liaoning’s provincial capital, Shenyang.
“Group traffic volume continues to grow. Chinese travelers are more affluent, experienced and confident with good English skills; they’re looking for experiences other than standard group products,” says Destination Canada, the national tourism marketing organization.
Bookings for Canada trips via China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip, have doubled over the past two years, America division director YuWenjun says.
Most Ctrip clients who visit the country are in their 50s and go to enjoy stunning scenery, Yu explains.
Favored destinations include Rocky Mountain National Park, Thousand Islands and Niagara Falls.
“Chinese tourists are most interested in experiencing natural scenic spots, wildlife and fresh air,” the Canadian tourism authority’s latest survey found.
Ctrip’s most-popular Canada group tours cover the country’s east and west coasts, Banff national park and Niagara over about two weeks. They cost about 25,000 yuan ($3,750) per person.
Vancouver and Toronto are the top urban destinations among Chinese group travelers, the authority’s survey says.
Chinese customers of Beijingbased Unique Way Inc, which customizes overseas tours, enjoy skiing, overnight stays in chateaus and swilling ice wine, co-founder Lei Tao says.
Other UniqueWay tours are tailored for national parks or viewing red maple leaves in fall.
While Yu says autumn is the best season to visit, Ctrip has introduced high-end snow tours, plus packages that enable travelers to operate tanks and stay overnight in historical fortresses.
Given the high-octane development of Chinese travel to Canada, it seems likely niche tourism options catering to Chinese visitors will continue to branch out in the coming years.
The Rideau Canal in Canada in autumn, the best season for the country to lure tourists from around the world.
A cyclist takes a break at the Maple Road in Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario.