TORONTO, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- A 317-member Chinese tourist group will arrive in Vancouver on Wednesday, the first to set foot on Canadian soil since the Approved Destination Status (ADS) treaty was officially signed in June between the Chinese and Canadian governments.
In this unusual hot and humid summer, lots of people both in Canadian and Chinese tourism industries are busy preparing for large numbers of Chinese tourists to travel around Canada.
ADS is a process by which the Chinese government approves destinations for Chinese tourists, which means that Canada can now receive group travelers and be allowed to market itself in China to tour companies.
"We're very very very busy at the moment, but we are happy," said Derek Galpin, Managing Director of China & India, Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), in a phone interview with Xinhua, adding that he's been waiting and preparing for this moment for over five years.
MORE ACCREDITED TOUR OPERATORS NEEDED
The 317 members of this group are from three cities in China -- Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They are organized by nearly a dozen accredited outbound Chinese tour operators, and will be received by accredited inbound Canadian counterparts after they land on Canada.
To get this inaugural group cleared to travel to Canada, the first step is to have tour operators accredited. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) requires that only accredited tour operators be allowed to receive Chinese tourists. On the Chinese side, only those tour operators accredited by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) can organize trips to Canada.
So far, 16 tour operators are officially accredited by TIAC, some of them owned by Chinese Canadians, according to David Goldstein, the President and CEO of TIAC.
"TIAC's process is demanding: operators must have obtained liability insurance and the owners of the tour companies must not have criminal records," Goldstein told Xinhua.
Goldstein pointed out that TIAC wants to avoid what has happened in other countries, where Chinese tourists have had bad experiences involving unlicensed tour guides or poor transportation vehicles. Goldstein said that, over all, TIAC was hoping to have 30-40 accredited tour operators.
However, some tour operators in Canada also complained that the first year accreditation fee -- 5,000 Canadian dollars -- is a bit high, and that some small and medium-sized travel agencies can't afford to pay it.