OTTAWA– The Liberal Party of Canada welcomes the long overdue opening of a new tourism centre in Beijing by the Canadian Tourism Commission, said Liberal Tourism and Asia-Pacific Gateway critic Joyce Murray today.
“However, this initiative is a sad reminder that Prime Minister Stephen Harper squandered years of opportunity,” said Ms. Murray. “By ignoring and overtly insulting China, the world’s fastest-growing economy and Canada’s second-largest trading partner, the Approved Destination Status (ADS) that Canada was supposed to receive in 2006 was delayed until 2009. In fact, Canada was one of the very last developed countries to receive this designation.”
According to Ms. Murray, the government’s diplomatic failures and policy mismanagement have also contributed to the precipitous decline in Canada’s ranking as a choice of overnight destination for international travellers.
“Since the ADS, Chinese tourists have flocked to Canada,” said Ms. Murray. “During the past 12 months alone, more than 240,000 Chinese travellers arrived in Canada—nearly a 25% increase over the previous year. This shows the magnitude of the three years of lost opportunities for Canadian tourism businesses. Yet despite Canada having the most powerful country brand in the world, when it come to actual choice of destination for overnight visits – we’ve dropped from 7th to a woeful 15th.”
Tourism industry spokespersons list several other barriers that have been created by this government, including eliminating travellers’ GST rebate, and introducing burdensome visa requirements without any consultation with countries like Mexico, which was once Canada’s fastest growing market. They note that the taxes, fees and surcharges levied by the federal government at airports are some of the highest in the world, a major deterrent to tourists.
“Thanks to this government’s mismanagement, Canada’s tourism trade deficit has grown to a whopping $14 billion,” said Ms. Murray. “Instead of a photo op in China, the Prime Minister needs to fix the problems his government created.”
Office of the Liberal Leader