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NEWS RELEASE · 25th June 2010
BC NDP Caucus
News that a formal agreement has now been signed granting Canada Approved Destination Status with China is welcome, but New Democrats are questioning whether the B.C. government is prepared to make the most of the opportunity.

“Tourism is an essential part of a sustainable B.C. economy. The Approved Destination Status agreement is an amazing opportunity to grow this critical sector of our economy and build relationships with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” said New Democrat Leader Carole James.

“New Democrats have taken the lead in having in-depth discussions with community business leaders to figure out the best ways for B.C. to seize the opportunity of our new status with China,” said James.

The New Democrat Official Opposition co-hosted the B.C.-China Tourism Conference in April of this year with the Association for Chinese Cultural Promotion of Canada. The one day conference was attended by 130 participants including tourism operators and local government officials from B.C. and China, immigration officials, and other business and community leaders who examined the opportunities and challenges of being granted Approved Destination Status.

“The conference built on a roundtable discussion we held with Chinese business leaders in January after it was first announced that we were going to be granted Approved Destination Status, and it was an outstanding success,” said Jenny Kwan, New Democrat economic development critic.

“We must foster those relationships to build towards a stronger tourism sector in B.C., and more importantly to strengthen cultural and economic exchange between Canada and China,” said Kwan.

Today, Kwan sent a summary of recommendations resulting from the B.C.-China Tourism Conference to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney and Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism Alice Wong.

New Democrat tourism critic Spencer Chandra Herbert raised concerns about B.C.’s readiness to get the word out that we are open for business.

“The tourism budget has been cut by $6 million, forcing layoffs at organizations like Tourism Victoria and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism region; the imposition of the HST is making it more difficult for tourism operators who are facing as many as 10,000 job losses and as much as $545 million in revenue loss because of the new tax.

“The B.C. Liberals have been heading in the wrong direction when it comes to tourism. We need to do the work now to ensure that we are a destination of choice for Chinese travelers and that we have the capacity to handle the increase in visitors to our province,” said Chandra Herbert.

Carole James and New Democrats are working with British Columbians from all walks of life, all corners of B.C., and all sectors of our economy to build a better British Columbia for the people of this province.