Toronto’s CN Tower was lit up red last night (March 21) to mark the launch of the 2018 China-Canada Tourism Year, which got underway with an opening ceremony at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
The commencement of the partnership is a recognition of the countries’ key strategic importance to each other in the tourism sector, with the expansion of people-to-people contact and cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture and education among its main goals.
Representing the Canadian federal government at the ceremony were its minister for small business and tourism, Bardish Chagger, and Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum. Chagger emphasized the strength of those people-to-people ties between the two countries, with McCallum highlighting the importance of tourism in bringing people together and enhancing mutual understanding between nations.
John McCallum, Canadian Ambassador to China with Bardish Chagger, Minister for Small Business & Tourism.
While the Canadian government has set its sights on doubling the number of visitors to Canada from China by 2021, Chagger also noted that “we want to see the plane full going both ways.” Tourism representatives from 13 Chinese provinces were in attendance at the ceremony, which formed part of a five-day visit to Canada aimed at developing contacts in the Canadian tourism industry and building new areas of business.
In a pre-recorded message broadcast during the ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed the launch of the partnership by affirming the valuable role that travel and tourism has to play in fostering economic growth and forging lasting connections.
“In 2017, we saw a record number of Chinese visitors in Canada,” he said, “and that’s a testament to the strong connections between people in our two countries.
Lu Shaye, Chinese Ambassador to Canada
“This year, we have a chance to build on those connections, and create opportunities for people in Canada and China alike. Tourism grows our economy, strengthens our connections, and brings our communities together.”
Lu Shaye, the Chinese ambassador to Canada, read a statement from Chinese premier Li Keqiang, who extended his warm congratulations and greetings to those in attendance; the agreement between Canada and China, he said, would increase practical cooperation between the two countries, with the aim of welcoming more Canadian visitors to China.
Canadian entertainer Mark Henry Rowswell, known in China as Dashan, was on hand to introduce a musical performance and energetic Chinese kung fu display to round off proceedings.
The ceremony marked the first of a range of events set to take place throughout the year in connection with the partnership. China will host 1,000 Canadian visitors at the city gate of Xi’an later in the year, while Canadian travel agents and media representatives will also embark on a FAM tour of China.