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CHINA GRANTS CANADA APPROVED DESTINATION STATUS

12-04-2009 

Canada secures Approved Destination Status from China; estimated to bring in an additional 50,000 Chinese visitors per year and $100 million

Yesterday, the Chinese government granted Canada Approved Destination Status, a designation that makes it easier for Chinese nationals to visit Canada.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement in Beijing following his meeting with Wen Jiabao, Premier of China.

“Approved Destination Status marks a significant moment in the history of our relations with China, indicating not only our mutual commitment to strengthening our diplomatic and commercial partnerships, but also our people-to-people ties,” said Harper. 

"As Canada prepares to welcome the world to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this new designation will help more of our Chinese friends discover why Canada is one of the best places in the world in which to invest, innovate, work and compete."

What is Approved Destination Status?

Approved Destination Status allows Chinese travel agents to advertise and organize group tours to countries with the designation. 

Therefore, obtaining permission to arrange group travel to that country becomes easier.  The Canadian travel industry, which has seen an increased travel deficit as overseas visitation to the country has declined, see this designation as encouraging news, and are eagerly drawing up plans to welcome more Chinese tourists.

The new change in Approved Destination Status will bring additional tourists and their dollars into the country – estimated at an additional 50,000 visitors and visitor spending of $100 million, said Harper’s office.

In 2008, visits to Canada by Chinese citizens were up 5.3 per cent from the year before, for a total of 159,000.  Chinese travellers had the highest average length of stay (28 nights) in Canada and spent more than visitors from any other country ($1,648.51).  According to a Conference Board of Canada survey, Approved Destination Status is expected to boost the yearly rate of travel to Canada from China by up to 50 per cent by 2015.

The long and winding road

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The road to securing Approved Destination Status has been a long one – shortly after taking office, Harper made a point of insisting that he would put human rights concerns ahead of business, trade or dollars in dealing with China and other countries.

Furthermore, Harper was publicly reprimanded yesterday at a televised press conference with Premier Wen Jiabao. “This is your first visit to China and this is the first meeting between the Chinese premier and a Canadian prime minister in almost five years,” Jiabao told Harper through an interpreter.

“Five years is too long a time for China-Canada relations and that’s why there are comments in the media that your visit is one that should have taken place earlier.”

The Harper Conservatives have adopted a more nuanced China approach in the last two years by emphasizing the need to build economic ties. More than a dozen cabinet ministers travelled to China to set the table for the prime minister's much-anticipated arrival and his unprecedented lecture by Wen.

Canadian airlines, destination marketing organizations, tourism organizations and other business leaders have expressed their gratitude at the new designation and look forward to welcoming more visitors to the country.

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