BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- China and other emerging markets have created significant opportunities for Canadian tourism, which the Canadian government seeks to take advantage of in light of current global economic conditions, a senior Canadian official said Tuesday.
Maxime Bernier, Canada's minister of state in charge of small businesses and tourism, said that Canadian tourism authorities believe it is important to strengthen ties with China, which is Canada's fifth-largest source of inbound tourists.
"China is on pace to become the world's largest outbound tourism market.With a growing middle-class, a booming economy and an increased outbound travel potential, the China market presents huge opportunities for the Canadian economy," Bernier said.
About 32 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad in the first half of 2011, making for a year-on-year growth rate of 19 percent, according to the National Tourism Administration of China.
China and Canada signed an Approved Destination Status agreement (ADS) in 2010, allowing Chinese travelers to visit Canada in organized and pre-sold tour groups, which created potential for the significant growth of Canadian tourism, Bernier said. In the year after the ADS agreement, the number of Chinese visitors to Canada surged by over 20 percent.
The minister said the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) will make more efforts to build Canada's image in China.
The CTC will continue to brand Canada as a premier tourist destination by using social media, working with travel agents to develop new group tours and maintaining regular dialogues with China's National Tourism Administration, Bernier said.
The CTC has used a comprehensive approach to attract the Chinese public, organizing online promotional activities through Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging website.
Although some industry insiders fear that global tourism might be hurt by a secondary economic recession, Bernier said he believes tourists from emerging markets like China will supplement the number of tourists from Western countries.
Canada has attached greater importance to sustainable tourism in recent years, Bernier said. The country's tourism industry has worked closely with national park authorities to encourage more businesses to adopt sustainable practices, he said.
Bernier arrived in China on Monday and will visit the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Wednesday.