VANCOUVER, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Only a few weeks after finalizing its Approved Destination Status (ADS), Canada has already ranked the third most popular tourist destination among Chinese looking to travel abroad, according to a survey released Monday.
In a telephone poll of 1,080 people living in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the "Research Report on China's Outbound Tourism Market" found Australia the most desired destination of prospective Chinese travelers, followed by Singapore and Canada.
The report was conducted jointly by the Vancouver-based SUCCESS Foundation, EMR International and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada,
Japan ranked fourth, just ahead of the United States, South Korea and New Zealand. Europe (16 percent), currently the most popular Western destination with Chinese travelers after Asia (67 percent) according to the Chinese Tourism News Association, surprisingly ranked 11th on the list of 13 countries and regions. The Middle East was last with only about 2 percent showing interest in visiting the region.
Unlike Australia which has had ADS since 1999, Canada, which only had its status finalized late last month during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the country ahead of the G20 summit in Toronto, was a desired destination of about 13 percent of travelers. Last year, Canada received 160,833 Chinese visitors out of the 47.6 million who traveled abroad.
Historically, countries that have been granted ADS, a designation which allows Chinese tourists to visit in organized, pre-sold tourist groups, have experienced a 40-percent jump in Chinese visitors the first year, increasing to more than 50 percent after two years.
With China forecast to have 100 million outbound tourists by 2020, Yuen Pau Woo, head of the Asia Pacific Foundation, said Canada was uniquely positioned to capitalize on the increasing number of travelers because of the "deep and profound" relationship shared by the two countries.
Currently, Canada and China are marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
"It is this unique connection that we have because of immigration, because of tourists, because of students, because of business ties, that puts Canada, I think, in a unique competitive position to build stronger relations with China. If we have more tourism traffic and Chinese visitors have a better understanding of Canada, in turn Canadians have a better understanding of China and Chinese visitors, suspicions go down, trust goes up," he said.
Other findings listed Canada as the most popular place for emigration among Beijingers, while Shanghai and Guangzhou residents both preferred Australia. Overall, Australia was the most popular destination for emigration among those polled, just ahead of Canada, the United States, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
While America was the unanimous choice for studying abroad among all three cities polled, Canada ranked first (22 percent) as the favorite country or region for investment. the United States was second (18 percent), followed by Australia (13 percent).
Tung Chan, head of SUCCESS, a non-profit group which helps new immigrants start their lives in Canada, said Chinese investors liked the country for its political stability and that it was seen as a "comfort zone" for its large Chinese community numbering about 1.4 million people.
The survey also found Chinese perceived Canada as a place to lead a relaxed life with its beautiful scenery, fresh air, skiing and maple syrup. About 15 percent of respondents said they would like to travel to the country to ski, while another 15 percent wanted to go for the food and wine.
Last year was historic in terms of Chinese tourism as it was the first time in 30 years the country had a trade deficit. Chinese tourist spent more abroad than what foreign visitors spent in China.