China Omits Canada from its Approved List of International Touristic Destinations
Amidst current geopolitical disputes between China and Canada, the eastern superpower has excluded Canada from its endorsed list of international touristic destinations where Chinese tour groups can resume travel post-pandemic.
This decision comes despite the fact that China has granted the permission to its travel agents and tour groups to commence booking travel to several countries like the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
Impact on Canadian Tourism
"This setback is a further blow to our tourism establishments that have already been grappling with numerous challenges due to the pandemic-related restrictions," laments Beth Potter, the President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
The Chinese Embassy in Canada justified the decision on the basis of recent political issues between Ottawa and Beijing, citing a significant rise in discriminatory anti-Asian incidents in Canada as a contributing factor.
China's Economic Power in Tourism
Chinese citizens have appreciated for their considerable spending power when traveling abroad, with Chinese tourists contributing US$255 billion globally in 2019 alone, an estimated 60% of which was spent by tour groups.
These Chinese tour groups have brought significant influx of tourists to Canada, with sought-after sites like Banff National Park or Niagara Falls on their itinerary.
Despite the current tensions, Jim Diodati, the Mayor of Niagara Falls, remained hopeful for a diplomatic solution. "We are still a top destination for them, and I believe that the existing political complications can be ironed out with effective diplomacy," he stated.
Political Repercussions on Canada's Tourism
In 2018, a record braking number of 757,000 Chinese travelers visited Canada, infusing the Canadian economy with C$2 billion, report suggests.
However, the diplomatic relations between the two nations soured when Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018, instigating a series of retaliatory events including China's detainment of two Canadians and Beijing blocking Canadian agricultural exports.
Potter hopes China will reconsider its stance in the next update of its approved travel list, but the Canadian tourism industry is bracing itself for potential contingencies.