Harper Government Welcomes First Official Chinese Tour Groups

Approved Destination Status bolsters Canada's tourism industry

VANCOUVER, Aug. 18 /CNW/ - Several hundred Chinese tourists arrived at the Vancouver International Airport today, as the Government of Canada officially opened its doors under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) agreement with China.

Enthusiastic travellers from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou were greeted at Vancouver International Airport by the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

"I'm delighted to be here to welcome our guests from China and to mark this important day for the Canadian tourism industry," said Minister Day. "Now that Approved Destination Status between our two countries is fully operational — and with an expected 100 million international travellers from China overall by 2020 — doors are opening to attract even more visitors from China."

"This is an exciting occasion for our country, and we are proud to showcase some of Canada's most exciting attractions to the Chinese delegation," said the Honourable Rob Moore, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism). "We hope that Canada becomes a top-of-mind destination for Chinese travellers and that today's arrival is just the first of many."

"On behalf of all British Columbians, I welcome our Chinese guests to Canada and to British Columbia and I thank the federal government for its efforts in securing Canada Approved Destination Status with China," said the Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia. "This agreement will be a boost to our tourism industry, and we are looking forward to many more visits in the future. Canada's Approved Destination Status is expected to result in an increase in Chinese visitors to B.C. by 10 percent in 2010 alone and an additional 15 percent in each of the next two years."

These first tour groups will start exploring British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, where they will take in the iconic and the extraordinary. The Chinese visitors were accompanied upon arrival by an official delegation of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), headed by Vice Chairman Du Jiang. The CTNA delegation will also enjoy a separate tour to get to know Canada better.

Canada-China relations continue to strengthen following the official signing of the Approved Destination Status agreement. The agreement was historically signed in Canada this past June, following Prime Minister Stephen Harper's successful visit to China last December. Approved Destination Status with China will allow the tourism industry to actively market Canadian tourism in China, one of the fastest growing outbound markets.

CTC President and CEO Michele McKenzie notes that "the growth in the China market over the next two years will indeed be fuelled by leisure group travel, and we're very excited to see these groups starting to arrive. We also have high expectations and strategies in place for increased business to Canada's meetings, incentive and convention sector as well as independent travel. The important thing will be to market collaboratively with our partners in China under a very strong Canada tourism brand in order to have maximum impact — and that's what we'll do."

To strengthen tourism, Canada's Economic Action Plan is investing in attractions and premiere events while increasing marketing and promotion efforts to highlight to the world all that Canada has to offer. In addition, the government is supporting the Canadian Tourism Commission with an additional $8 million for marketing initiatives and programs to promote Canada as a destination of choice to visitors in key international markets such as China.

For background information on the CTC's marketing initiatives in China, the inaugural post-ADS tour and statistics, please click here.

About the CTC

The CTC is Canada's national tourism marketing organization. Our vision is inspiring the world to explore Canada. With our partners in the tourism industry and the governments of Canada, the provinces and the territories, we advertise and market Canada in 12 countries around the world, conduct industry research and studies, and promote product and industry development. For daily updates on CTC initiatives, subscribe to CTC News, available through RSS feeds and by email. Or you can become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE Canadian Tourism Commission

For further information: For further information:

Margaret Nevin
Senior Communications Advisor
Canadian Tourism Commission
604-376-6690 (cell)

Kelly Laver
Corporate Communications Coordinator
Canadian Tourism Commission
604-376-5687 (cell)

Media interviews with CNTA officials
The CNTA have advised that requests for individual interviews from Canadian media during the delegation visit should be addressed to the Director of the CNTA office in Canada:

Yan Xu, Director
China National Tourist Office, Toronto

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