With the hot Canadian summer now well underway, people from all around the world are pouring into cities like Vancouver and Toronto -- not least Chinese tourists who, thanks to policy change over the last few years, are becoming one of the largest groups of foreign visitors to the country.
While American and European visitors continue to travel to Canada in strong numbers, the number of Chinese visitors has increased by 246 percent between 2004 and 2013, largely due to the Chinese government granting Canada approved destination status in December 2009.
Policy changes have given Chinese tourists easier access to visas, and have also allowed marketing and tourism agencies to market Canada directly to Chinese consumers.
Canada's western province of British Columbia is where most Chinese travellers first arrive. According to the tourism department of B.C., last year, the number of Chinese tourists to Canada surpassed those from Britain for the first time, making China the largest off-shore source of tourists to the country.P B.C.'s tourism official Monica Leeck told Xinhua that Chinese visitors to Vancouver, the largest city in B.C., are increasing year by year. And the average age is younger than before, with the 20-to-44 age group comprising about 43 percent.
"We're really lucky in British Columbia because we're well positioned with a plethora of year-round activities, so really the sky is the limit and with the appetite from the Chinese market, I think we'll see so many changes over the next five to ten years," said Leeck.