Chi­nese ap­pli­cants for Canada visas plum­met

Diplo­matic ten­sions are to blame for the sharp de­cline: ex­pert

Global Times US Edition - - BIZUPDATE - By Lu We­nao and Song Lin

The num­ber of Chi­nese cit­i­zens ap­ply­ing for tourist visas to Canada sank in the months after bi­lat­eral re­la­tions soured over Canada’s ar­rest of an ex­ec­u­tive of Huawei, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports and tourism in­sid­ers on Tuesday.

The fig­ure of Chi­nese tourists ap­ply­ing for 10-year Cana­dian visas dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in the first two months of the year, with the num­ber in Jan­uary down by al­most half, Cana­dian news­pa­per The Globe and Mail re­ported on Mon­day. Though the num­ber re­bounded in April, it was still lower than the year-ear­lier level, the re­port said.

Sun Cheng­hao, an as­sis­tant re­search fel­low at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said that po­lit­i­cal ten­sions were to blame for the drop. Canada ar­rested Meng Wanzhou, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of the Chi­nese tele­coms firm Huawei, in De­cem­ber at the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port at the be­hest of the US.

“Re­la­tions be­tween China and the US re­main luke­warm as they are in a trade war,” Sun told the Global Times on Tuesday. “Canada has a su­per close tie to the US in Meng’s case, which may result in Canada suf­fer­ing from this.”

On Mon­day, Meng’s lawyers called on Ot­tawa to drop the ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings of her for the “na­tional in­ter­ests” of Canada. China is not in any trade war with Canada.

In mid-jan­uary, the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry is­sued a “cau­tiously visit” no­tice on Canada – the sec­ond-level safety ad­vi­sory – warn­ing Chi­nese cit­i­zens to fully as­sess the risks they might face when vis­it­ing Canada.

Apart from Meng’s case, sour re­la­tions be­tween China and the US might also dis­cour­age Chi­nese trav­el­ers, who tend to visit both coun­tries in one trip, from vis­it­ing Canada, ac­cord­ing to Xu Xiaolei, an of­fi­cial with the mar­ket­ing de­part­ment of China CYTS Tours Hold­ing.

“Gen­er­ally, Chi­nese tourists go­ing to Canada are those who are tour­ing North Amer­ica as a whole,” said Xu. “If the things with the US do not go well, Canada will not go well ei­ther.”

Tourism in­sid­ers also be­lieve that get­ting visas for north­ern Euro­pean coun­tries is eas­ier than get­ting one to Canada, which fur­ther di­min­ishes Canada’s at­trac­tions for Chi­nese tourists.

“Canada’s win­ter is too cold for most Chi­nese vis­i­tors, ex­cept those who specif­i­cally want to watch the north­ern lights or go ski­ing,” said an of­fi­cial of a Chi­nese tourism agency on con­di­tion of anonymity. “Sim­i­lar at­trac­tions can eas­ily be found in north­ern Eu­rope like Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries.”

Sharp de­clines in Chi­nese vis­i­tor ar­rivals in Canada could deal a ma­jor blow to the coun­try’s tourism industry, as rev­enue from one of the largest spenders could fall sharply, ex­perts said.

In 2017, around 682,000 Chi­nese tourists vis­ited Canada and each spent about $2,400 per trip, ac­cord­ing to a sep­a­rate re­port from the Globe and Mail in De­cem­ber 2018.

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