Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in China recently to announce a new tourism campaign that promotes Canadian destinations to Chinese travellers. It’s the first major initiative to come out of the newly opened Canadian Tourism Commission marketing centre in Beijing.
The campaign will highlight mostly western Canada attractions, including the Calgary Stampede, whose mascot Harry the Horse came along with Harper to help seal the deal (note: I have no idea if Harry really helped seal the deal. I can only assume/hope he played a significant role.)
It’s an interesting and, one could argue, long overdue move. As the article states, Canada was one of the last countries to receive “approved destination status” from China, and after doing so in 2009 experienced an immediate 25 percent increase in Chinese visitors the following year.
It’s also common sense: China is now third in the world in international tourism spending and is only growing. Back home, the U.S. is making strides to woo more Chinese travelers as well, with President Obama recently announcing a directive to create a task force that’ll develop a new national travel and tourism strategy. The numbers are staggering and show a clear picture of why this is important and needed:
The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes – such as China, Brazil, and India – is projected to grow by 135%, 274%, and 50% respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010.
Yowzers. No doot aboot it, that’s a lot of loonies to be spent in the coming years. And you can be sure that the U.K., France, and plenty of other countries will be fighting for that potential revenue. One could see why New York’s approach of more targeted advertising in Chinese markets makes even more sense now.
In sum, it’s a smart move by our neighbours to the north, eh? Canada has big hopes, expecting China to be their third highest source of international travellers by 2013. In the meantime they’re busy cranking up air travel capacity to compensate. Harry the Horse only travels first class.