Chinese travelers flock to latest leisure destination

By Yu Tianyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-28 08:25
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Chinese travelers flock to latest leisure destination

Sculptures on display in the International Terminal of Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver, Canada. International visitors made 15.6 million trips to Canada in 2009, down 22 percent from the peak year in 2002, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission. Don MacKinnnon / Bloomberg

BEIJING - In the Beijing dining room of Liu Mingjun, 64, a world map is dotted with red stickers marking the places where she and her 67-year-old husband have traveled - from Thailand to France.

Liu, formerly an engineer at a State-owned enterprise, is ready to put another red sticker on Canada, the home of medical innovator Norman Bethune, the spiritual icon of her younger years. The couple will be among the first to travel since the June 24 signing of the Approved Destination Status (ADS) agreement between China and Canada.

"I'm pretty excited about the launching of the ADS since my husband and I speak very little English and we have no relatives living in Canada," said Liu, who is going to visit Niagara Falls.

"We have booked a travel package in the middle of September and so many marvelous resorts I desire to go to cannot all be included during one trip."

Under the agreement, it will be easier for Chinese citizens to obtain tourist visas to travel to Canada for leisure purposes.

Previously, Chinese travelers to Canada were eligible to obtain visas to Canada only if traveling for study, visiting friends and relatives or business activities.

The agreement has also authorized Chinese travel agencies to market and promote leisure group tours for travel in Canada.

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and trip operators are gearing up to grasp the opportunities from the world's fastest-growing outbound tourism market.

"In the past five years, we have been striving to build up relationships with Chinese travel agencies which have much influence in the Chinese tourism market, in consideration of its huge buzz and dynamic economic growth," said Derek Galpin, managing director of CTC in China.

"We have invited about 400 Chinese travel agencies to Canada along with 200 media agencies ... to get closer to our potential customers," he said.

"Many Canadian tourism operators also visited China, showing their commitment to the Chinese market."

Buffeted by the global economic turndown and the H1N1 flu virus outbreak, international visitors made 15.6 million trips to Canada in 2009, down 22 percent from the peak year in 2002, according to CTC's year-in-review 2009 snapshot.

China was the only one of the CTC's key markets to record a rise in trip numbers with a modest 0.4 percent increase over 2008, the report said.

Galpin said that even without the ADS, Chinese visitors made 159,400 overnight trips to Canada in 2009. And CTC expects to see a 3.5 percent year-on-year increase in arrivals from China in 2010.

After the first batch of about 230 Chinese ADS tourists departed to Canada in the middle of August, economic forecaster the Conference Board of Canada estimated that Chinese tourist visits to Canada will increase by up to 50 percent over the next five years, boosting the Canadian tourism industry.

The Annual Report of China Outbound Tourism Development 2009-2010, recently released by the China Tourism Academy, estimated that 54 million Chinese will venture out to see the world in 2010. Additionally, the UN's World Tourism Organization predicted that China will be the world's fourth largest source of outbound tourists by 2020, with 100 million Chinese tourists traveling abroad.

China Daily