Tourism Vancouver Signs Five-Year Agreement With China

Tourism Vancouver | BCBusiness
Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vice Mayor Chen of Guangzhou were on hand to witness the signing of an agreement that formalizes a relationship between Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Guangzhou.

Last month Tourism Vancouver signed an agreement with sister city Guangzhou to work collaboratively on tourism projects over the next five years

Tourism Vancouver has signed a five-year agreement with Tourism Guangzhou which will help cement Vancouver’s reputation as a key player in the Chinese tourism market.

“We know that as a destination we don’t have the kind of muscle that other destinations have in terms of spending power so we have to be more innovative in terms of how we make connections. We know we have a great product, but when the rest of the world is trying to attract [Chinese] agents, how do we get them to pay attention to us? I see this as a way to do just that,” says Stephen Pearce, vice-president of leisure travel and digital marketing for Tourism Vancouver.

The specifics of the agreement will be finalized mid-January when a delegation from Guangzhou will visit Vancouver, says Pearce. The two organizations plan to meet at least semi-annually and will set objectives for the partnership yearly.

“It is is an opportunity to share best practices, research and to support each others missions in our respective cities,” he says.

Canada has seen a 24-per-cent increase with Vancouver seeing a 29-per-cent increase in visitors from Mainland China compared to last year, says Pearce. Tourism has an estimated value of $6.1 billion in Vancouver and produces 69,000 jobs in the city, providing annual taxes to all levels of government of $1.51 billion. In 2014, China is expected to be Vancouver’s second largest source of international visitors, after the U.S.

With this agreement the organizations hope to learn from each other in order to drive tourism demand between the two sister cities. Tourism Vancouver will teach the Guangzhou delegation about their methods for implementing strategy and plans to also do a workshop on better working with cruise lines, which is of interest to Tourism Guangzhou. Tourism Vancouver is interested in looking at how China is using social media and is looking for innovative ways to target Chinese consumers.

“They are looking for what they can learn from us in terms of how they can more effectively go after the North American market,” says Pearce. “Vancouver gets more flights from China so they recognize our role as a gateway to a larger audience.”

Tourism Guangzhou will also help Tourism Vancouver connect with different agents and trade partners. Pearce offered an example of the recent trip to Guangzhou with 12 local hoteliers and Tourism Whistler which involved productive one-on-one meetings.

“I have already heard from some of the hoteliers that not only were they able to sign up businesses from the event itself, but they have had follow up calls from operators who are now particularly interested in finding ways to bring clients to their hotel properties,” says Pearce.

While Tourism Vancouver focuses primarily on marketing, Tourism Guangzhou is more policy-oriented and can easily connect tourism trade CEOs with Tourism Vancouver.

“This organization opens and closes tourism businesses—they have a lot of clout. We are dealing with an audience that is getting besieged by the rest of the world because they are an important market, so we see this as a really good way to create visibility for our destination by being hosted by Tourism Guangzhou.”