Government AffairsCanada has been excluded from China’s approved travel list for tour groups due to strained relations.

China tour groups continue to shun Canada

While 138 countries had Covid-era bans on group tours lifted, Canada remained excluded.
While 138 countries had Covid-era bans on group tours lifted, Canada remained excluded. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Sam D'Cruz

Major outbound tourism powerhouse China has left Canada out of its list of endorsed travel sites for tour groups.

This decision is based on strained relations arising from Canada's critique of China's policies. While several destinations saw the Covid-era ban on group tours lifted last week, Canada was conspicuously absent from the list, which currently comprises 138 countries.

The list of approved destinations holds importance for travel agents organising vacations for Chinese nationals. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa explained that Canada's absence was due to Canada's alleged exaggeration of "Chinese interference" and Canada’s increasing "discriminatory anti-Asian acts and words."

Before the pandemic, China emerged as the world's largest tourism source market, spending approximately US$255 billion on international travel in 2019. However, due to recent tensions between the two countries, China's decision not to include Canada has raised concerns in the Canadian tourism industry.

In 2018, nearly 700,000 Chinese visitors travelled to Canada, spending around US$2,600 per visitor. This amounted to a total of US$2 billion purely from Chinese travellers out of the collective US$22 billion spent by all international visitors.

Bilateral relations deteriorated in 2018 following the arrest of a Huawei executive in Canada and the subsequent arrests of two Canadians in China on charges of espionage. These incidents led to accusations of "hostage diplomacy" and strained diplomatic ties.

Relations between China and Canada worsened this year with allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian elections and intimidation of MPs, resulting in a Chinese diplomat's expulsion from Canada. Despite the disappointment caused by China's exclusion, officials in Canada hope to secure a place on the list in the future.

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