The Soul of Shaolin, a dramatic play with kung fu as its backdrop, is staged at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday in Toronto to celebrate the grand opening of the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism. (Photo: China Daily/Na Li)
China has rolled out a big red carpet for Canadian travelers.
Featuring tourism displays from several Chinese provinces, a unique kungfu performance and the lighting of the CN Tower in red to honor the color of the flags of both countries, the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism was formally launched in Toronto on Wednesday.
The opening ceremony hosted by China's National Tourism Office in Toronto at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts attracted a huge crowd of both Chinese and Canadians.
Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada, conveyed greetings from Premier Li Keqiang. Li said tourism is "a window" for opening each country to the other and is important to bilateral cooperation. Li said he hoped that the two sides can work together to provide better services and environments for tourists and wished great success for the 2018 Canada China Tourism Year.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered his greetings by video. He said the year is a milestone in the Canada-China relationship and thanked everyone who worked to make the year of tourism a reality.
"I am proud to take part in this fabulous opening ceremony," said Bardish Chagger, Canada's minister of small business and tourism. "Canadian ties to China run deep - almost 1.8 million Canadians are of Chinese heritage and are an important part of the fabric of our diverse country; China is also our second-largest trade partner.
"Tourism is an important industry for both of our countries, and I look forward to the opportunities this year will create on both sides of the Pacific," Chagger added.
According to the minister, Canada has so much to offer as people are looking for unique and authentic experiences, including indigenous travel. The effort hopes to make sure all partners are at the table so they can deliver, she said.
"Canada welcomed a record number of Chinese visitors last year, and I expect that this year will break that record easily," she said.
In September 2016, Premier Li and visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the designation of 2018 as the China-Canada Tourism Year. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation on two-way tourist visits. They also set the target of doubling the scale of traveler interflow over 2015 levels by 2025.
"China is huge, even if it's doubling its visitors, we will be still less than 1 percent of all the Chinese overseas tourists, there are just so many Chinese tourists," said John McCallum, Canada's ambassador to China. "We just need to convince the Chinese people, we just need to welcome them. We have visa functions to service them. I am very confident we'll hit the target."
"This is an important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries from the strategic and long-term perspective of bilateral relations, one that will inject strong impetus into the building of a new 'Golden Decade' of China-Canada relations," said Xue Yaping, leader of the Chinese tourism delegation.
According to the work plan, the two sides have both planned a variety of exchange activities through the year to celebrate the year of tourism.
The main activities to be hosted by the Chinese side include an arrival ceremony for 1,000 Canadian tourists at the city gates of Xi'an, the "Beautiful China, More Than Pandas" program and a tour for Canadian travel agents and media representatives.
Chinese tourism companies will also present classic Chinese tourist routes such as the Grand Canal, the Tea Road and the Great Wall.
The Canadian side will host the closing ceremony in China in the second half of the year.