Minister Chagger concludes productive FPT tourism trade mission to China

News release

Three-city mission helped delegates develop a better understanding of the Chinese tourism industry, as well as develop stronger business-to-business connections

June 29, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism has concluded a productive six-day federal, provincial and territorial tourism trade mission to China.

Building on previous work by the Government of Canada to help Canadian businesses thrive in the Chinese market, the tourism trade mission brought a delegation of provincial and territorial ministers and more than two dozen Canadian tourism businesses, including Indigenous tourism operators, to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai from June 23 to 28 for business development activities. The Minister was also accompanied by Destination Canada, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Parks Canada. 

The mission concluded in Shanghai, where the Minister and the delegation met with key representatives from Ctrip, one of China’s largest online travel agencies, and Fosun, a Chinese conglomerate that operates several multinational tourism companies. 

Throughout the mission, the delegation met with a diverse group of Chinese tourism operators, travel agents, business leaders and government officials to build relationships with key stakeholders in the Chinese tourism market and showcase Canada’s unique tourism offerings.

The delegation took part in three business-to-business networking and matchmaking events that gave them the opportunity to connect with more than 120 Chinese tour operators and other key stakeholders in the Chinese tourism industry. More than 400 encounters took place between Canadian and Chinese businesses.

Seven memoranda of understanding (MOU) and partnership agreements were signed, including a first: ITAC signed an agreement with CYTS Sparkle Tours, a dynamic Chinese tour company, that will increase the marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences in Canada to visitors from China.

Participation in the mission was targeted to Canadian businesses active in, or entering, the Chinese tourism market. The level of engagement seen between Canadian and Chinese companies shows the importance of sustained engagement with key stakeholders in order to realize long-term commercial success and further strengthen our strong people-to-people ties. 

This mission was the third trip to China for Minister Chagger in less than a year. Last July, she was part of a mission with the former Governor General, and in December she accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During that mission, a single event at Sina Weibo helped raise awareness among Chinese consumers of the unique travel experiences available in Canada. This mission was the continuation of that focus.

We are midway through the Canada-China Year of Tourism and, so far, it is yielding great results. According to preliminary results, in the first four months of 2018, we welcomed more than 178,000 Chinese tourists, representing an increase of 23.9% compared to the same period in 2017. For the first time ever China became the largest overseas market for tourists coming to Canada. Such numbers are encouraging as Canada has four seasons for tourism as well as 10 great provinces and 3 great territories for Chinese nationals to visit. 


“Tourism is Canada’s top service export, accounting for one in 10 jobs associated with the visitor economy. It is a powerful economic driver from coast to coast to coast.  According to preliminary estimates, in the first quarter of 2018, tourism spending in Canada reached $19.4 billion, an increase of 5.6% compared to the first quarter in 2017. Building on these strong results, this mission was an incredible opportunity to build on our two countries’ strong people-to-people ties by developing long-lasting personal relationships with key stakeholders in the Chinese tourism industry. I was proud to see these Canadian businesses show off all that Canada has to offer and to see the cooperation agreements taking place.  I am confident that Canada’s unique tourism experiences will help attract a record number of Chinese visitors this year, creating economic growth and good middle-class jobs in our communities from coast to coast to coast. The relationships we build today will help continue this momentum for many years to come.”

– The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

“Following this mission and the contacts that have been made, we are looking forward to welcoming more Chinese families ‎to our Parks Canada places. In 2018 and beyond, the Government of Canada is celebrating families with free admission to all Parks Canada’s places for youth 17 and under. Parks Canada places are a great way to experience the outdoors and learn about Canada’s environment and heritage.”

– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“There has never been a better time for Canada to draw on and expand our extensive people-to-people links in order to tap into the fast-growing Chinese market. China offers tremendous opportunities in many sectors for Canadian businesses of all sizes to diversify their trade and investment, creating good middle-class jobs for Canadians in the process.”

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade

“ITAC was honoured to be part of this important trade mission. The leadership of Minister Chagger to create this mission resulted in a new agreement between ITAC and CYTS Sparkle Tours. This was just one of several constructive steps taken to further promote Indigenous tourism in Canada. This mission once again demonstrated why Canada is the world leader in Indigenous tourism.  We are real partners who work side by side, and the ability to have real partners is why Chinese visitors want to come to Canada and add Indigenous experiences to their visits. We have made significant new strides forward as a result of this trade mission. ITAC and our members Tundra North Tours, Quebec Aboriginal Tourism, Indigenous Tourism BC and Aurora Village are extremely grateful.”

– Keith Henry, President & CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

“The CCBC believes market diversification matters to Canadian businesses. Chinese citizens travelling overseas together comprise the world’s largest outbound tourist market.  Small businesses in Canadian cities, towns and Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast are already benefiting from growing inbound tourists from China.  The CCBC applauds the coordinated efforts of Canadian governments at all levels for their work to expand air routes between Canada and China, to facilitate visa applications and, as with this important tourist promotion mission led by Minister Chagger, to take Canada’s wonderful story directly to the Chinese consumers.  In our 40th anniversary year, the CCBC and its over 350 members, including in the tourism industry, will do what we can to ensure our members are ready to support the doubling of inbound Chinese tourists.”

– Graham Shantz, President, Canada China Business Council

“I was honoured to take part in the trade mission to bring the voice of Canadian tourism business directly to key markets in China. During our time in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai, the Canadian tourism industry forged invaluable relationships that will help foster growth for the future. We also signed a number of strategic agreements, including a new TIAC MOU, strengthening our existing relationship with UnionPay for the benefit of our members.” 

– Charlotte Bell, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada

“As the Chinese market continues to grow, we’re working closely with our provincial, territorial and industry partners to seize the opportunity and persuade Chinese travellers that now is the time to explore Canada.”

– David F. Goldstein, President & CEO, Destination Canada

Quick facts

  • The delegation attended panel discussions and workshops on topics including market trends in Chinese tourism, how Chinese consumers learn about different destinations and how Canadian businesses can ensure tourists from China find their products and book their services.

  • During the mission, seven memoranda of understanding (MOU) and partnership agreements were signed between Canadian and Chinese associations and businesses:

    • Destination Canada and Ctrip signed an MOU to continue to build their strategic partnership to promote Canada’s tourism brand in China with an increased focus on Indigenous experiences and Atlantic Canada.
    • Destination Canada and UTour signed an MOU to collaborate in research and development and marketing. 
    • Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and CYTS Sparkle Tours signed an MOU that will increase the marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences in Canada to visitors from China.
    • Mount Baldy and the General Administration of Sport for China signed an MOU that secures Mount Baldy as a key training mountain for the Chinese national ski team. 
    • Northwest Territories Tourism and Flow Creative signed an MOU that will increase exposure for the Northwest Territories in China, building value for the sights and stories of the territory and increasing visitation. 
    • Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and UnionPay signed an MOU to continue working together to support Canadian tourism businesses in the integration of the popular Chinese payment method.
    • Arctic Colour Tours signed a partnership agreement with Alibaba’s online travel agency, Fliggy, to promote Canadian and Yukon tourism destinations on their platforms.
  • The mission followed an announcement on June 22 by the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on the introduction of UnionPay as a new payment option when applying for a visa online. This will make it much easier for Chinese travellers planning a visit to Canada: UnionPay is the largest and most popular payment provider in China.

  • Tourism GDP in 2017 was $41.2 billion, up 6.3% from 2016. Tourism’s share of Canadian GDP in 2017 was over 2%.

  • More than 735,000 jobs were directly supported by tourism in 2017, up 1.9% from 2016.

  • China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner and its third-largest international source of tourists.

  • Chinese travellers typically spend more on average than other travellers. The amount spent per trip in 2016 was $2,517. Chinese tourists spent an estimated $1.488 billion in Canada in 2016.

  • Since China granted Canada approved destination status in 2010, the number of Chinese tourists to Canada grew on average by nearly 20% each year.

  • The number of tourists from China grew from 195,000 in 2010 to 682,000 in 2017 according to preliminary estimates. The government is committed to continuing this impressive trend of record-breaking growth.

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Sandra Aubé
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and
Economic Development Canada

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