Canada left off China’s list of approved countries for tour groups

By Cormac Mac Sweeney and Pippa Norman

Canada has been left off China’s list of approved countries for tour groups to travel to, dealing Canada’s already struggling tourism industry another financial blow.

The reasoning for its actions, according to a statement made by the Chinese embassy to CBC, includes concerns about Canada’s discussions about “Chinese interference” and what it claims are rampant, discriminatory anti-Asian acts. The U.S. and Australia are among the 78 other countries that made the approved list.

This exclusion spells trouble for Canada’s tourism industry, says Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. Potter says tourists from China are a large financial contributor that many businesses rely upon.

“On average, they spend almost twice what the next tourist would spend from other countries around the world,” Potter said. “We’re talking in the neighbourhood of about $1,500 to $1,600.”

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In the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, more than 200,000 Chinese residents visited Canada. In 2022, that number dropped down to just over 15,000. This decline is threatening the livelihood of many tourism-dependent businesses, Potter told CityNews, especially those still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, China was one of Canada’s largest sources of tourist arrivals from the Asia-Pacific region, according to Destination Canada.

“The staggering number of businesses, 45 per cent of them, say that if they don’t get some kind of relief, they could go under in the next two to three years,” Potter said.

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