Published on : Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Every year around 3,500 Chinese tourists make their way to Yukon — a number which continues to grow steadily. The majority come for winter-based tourism, but not exclusively, said Robin Anderson, the global marketing manager for Tourism Yukon.
Anderson says Canada, the United States, and Germany remain the primary markets for Yukon tourism, while China became an emerging market about three years ago. However, that may soon change, especially with 2018 being celebrated as Canada-China year of tourism by the two countries, says Anderson.
“China is the holy grail in a way, especially for North American provinces and territories, and states that are on the West Coast … It is a massive market and so even a tenth of a percentage point of the travelling market out of China is a huge number of travellers.”
He says about half a dozen Yukon businesses are already actively marketing in China, including Air North, North Visions Development who manages several hotels around Yukon, and other smaller tour operators that cater to Chinese travellers.
Daniel Mao, manager of Arctic Colour Tours, says his lodge welcomed more than a thousand guests in 2017 — a number which he hopes to double in 2018.
Mao says many travel agents based in China are interested in the Yukon, specifically in aurora viewing businesses. He says Arctic Colour is now working with four or five wholesale travel agents based in Vancouver, which cater specifically to the Chinese market.
While the focus is still on winter tourism, Mao says the company aims to offer more than just winter aurora viewing, including: dog sledding, snowmobiling and festivals at the lodge.
Mao says travelling to the Yukon is fairly easy for Chinese tourists, with only two to three per cent of applicants being denied a travel visa. He says, it’s that level of accessibility that may be the difference in 2018.
‘We’re seeing travellers from China who are doing paddling trips, we’re seeing travellers from China doing hiking trips. So, there is a fair amount of diversity within the clientele,’ says Robin Anderson, the global marketing manager for Tourism Yukon.
Anderson says that “summer aurora viewing” — which begins late summer, early fall — is also growing in demand. He said that Tourism Yukon was in the process of evaluating how much the industry could grow, while still maintaining sustainable development. He says Tourism Yukon has just created a tourism development strategy, which tackles the question of how much growth is too much.
Anderson says small groups of independent travellers are the demographic Tourism Yukon is targeting in its strategy.