Tourism surge

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.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writ­ers through erik_nils­son@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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.

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