Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade for the Government of Alberta.
Canada's western province of Alberta is looking to attract a record number of Chinese travelers in 2018, as the Canada-China Year of Tourism generates fresh opportunities for enhanced cooperation between the two countries, said a Canadian official.
The move by Alberta, the fourth most populous province in Canada, is part of the country's broader push to double the number of Chinese visitors by 2021.
"The Canada-China Year of Tourism recognizes the strong cultural ties and business relationships between our two nations," said Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade for the Government of Alberta.
"We look forward to welcoming even more Chinese visitors to our province in the coming months," Bilous said at a news conference.
China is Canada's third-largest tourism source market, following the United States and the United Kingdom. According to Destination Canada, the government body promoting travel to Canada, an estimated 750,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada by the end of 2017, up 23 percent from the previous year.
For Alberta alone, the province's direct entries from China increased nearly 65 percent year-on-year to about 18,000 in 2017.
Cindy Termorshuizen, deputy head of mission at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, said Alberta's initiatives would boost China-Canada relations.
To capitalize on the tourism year, Alberta has been ramping up efforts in offering tailored services to Chinese travelers.
"Whether traveling for business or on vacation, we want to help Alberta businesses to exceed the customer service expectations of Chinese travelers", said Royce Chwin, CEO of Travel Alberta, an organization responsible for tourism marketing and support services for Alberta.
Services include translation of content into simplified Chinese and ensuring ease of payment and adoption of mobile payment methods, said Chwin.
Alberta's enthusiasm for China is partly fueled by the market's rapidly emerging urban middle class, Bilous told China Daily in a written reply. "This means there is a high demand for energy resources, raw materials and quality commodities."
Besides tourism, Alberta's trade with China has potential for growth and plays a role in the province's economic diversification efforts, Bilous said.
China is Alberta's second largest destination in trade volume, with a trading relationship spanning several sectors including energy, agriculture, science and technology, and cultural industries.
"Alberta will continue to work collaboratively with the federal government and with other jurisdictions in Canada to build trust and mutual benefits in our relationship with China," Bilous added.