Beijing bans Chinese holidays in Canada. “Hard blow to tourism”
TORONTO – Holidays in Canada prohibited for (would-be) Chinese tourists. China has in fact excluded Canada from the list of “approved” international destinations for tour groups, while Chinese travel agents have obtained the green light to book post-pandemic trips in other countries such as the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia.
“Another blow to Canadian tourism entrepreneurs who have had a tough few years due to pandemic-related restrictions,” Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, told CTV.
The Chinese embassy in Canada, in turn, claims that the decision to omit Canada from the list – published on August 10 – was taken in response to recent political tensions between Ottawa and Beijing. “Lately, the Canadian side has repeatedly hyped up the so-called ‘Chinese interference,’ and rampant and discriminatory anti-Asian acts and words are rising significantly in Canada,” the Chinese embassy wrote to CTV. And then again: “The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting the safety and legitimate rights of overseas Chinese citizens and wishes they can travel in a safe and friendly environment.”
China knows that its citizens carry economic weight, as mainland Chinese tourists spend more than tourists from any other country when they are abroad: in 2019 alone, Chinese tourists spent $255 billion worldwide; in 2018, a record 757,000 Chinese travelers came to Canada and spent C$2 billion, according to Statistics Canada.
But the idyll ended when Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on behalf of US officials in December of the same year as part of an investigation into charges of fraud and evasion of sanctions against Iran. Since then, relations between Canada and China have plummeted: first the arrest and detention of two Canadians in China, then the blocking of Canadian agricultural exports by Beijing and, finally, the affair of “Chinese interference” which sees the China has also been accused of meddling in Canada’s democratic process.
Beth Potter hopes China will include Canada when it updates its “approved” travel list, but notes that members of the association of Canadian tour operators are preparing alternatives. “It means the Canadian tourism industry will have to look at other markets,” Potter said. “To fill the gap that will be left by China”.