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.