OTTAWA — The Canadian tourism industry is applauding a decision by China to grant “approved destination status” to Canada.
The move was announced Thursday in Beijing on the second day of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first official visit to the country.
The status gives the Canadian tourism industry a boost by permitting Chinese travel agents to market Canada as a vacation spot.
The industry has long been seeking the status, which officials estimate could be worth $100 million to Canada.
“This is a vital and historic announcement for Canada’s tourism industry,” said Randy Williams, president and CEO of the Ottawa-based Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
The agreement will allow Canadian tourism operators to tap into the world’s most significant emerging outbound tourism market, Williams said.
By 2020, China is expected to be the world’s largest outbound market, producing some 100 million tourists.
Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, called the announcement an early Christmas present for Canadian tourism, and one that will keep on giving for years.
The Conference Board of Canada has said its expects tourism to increase by 50 per cent over the next five years because of the agreement.
Ablonczy said it would take time to get processes in place and officials up to speed, but said with the Vancouver Olympics just over two months away, she expected it would happen very quickly.
7/8Having China opened up to Toronto as a tourist market is great news for the city and region,“ said David Whitaker, president and CEO of Tourism Toronto.
“We currently have about 70,000 visitors a year from China and they tend to stay longer and spend more while they are here, making it a strategically important visitor market for Toronto.”
Tourism Toronto has been actively developing the China market for several years through tour operators and PR initiatives, but the new status allows it to promote the city more directly to Chinese consumers, Whitaker said.