Editorial 

The best laid action plans…

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Air Canada, which says it can handle all the traffic between Canada and the UAE, called the numbers "a fairy tale."

Aboriginal tourism certainly received a boost from the 2010 Olympics. First Nations' art and culture were woven into nearly every aspect of the Games. But whether that exposure attracts more visitors, to the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre for instance, remains to be seen.

Similarly, the legacy societies in Whistler and Richmond have hardly had a chance to show what they can do. Whistler has announced World Cup bobsled and skeleton races will be coming here in November but we'll have to see what other international calibre winter sports events come this way.

Chinese tourism is another area where the federal government plays the lead role. After ignoring China for several years Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally paid the country a visit last year - and suddenly Canada had the long-desired Approved Destination Status. ADS means Chinese tour operators are now able to book tours to Canada.

As a tourism market for British Columbia, China will take time to develop. However, there may still be some political impediments.

Gabriel Yiu, a former provincial NDP candidate in Vancouver Fraserview, attended a B.C.-China tourism conference last month. Yiu reported on his blog that one panel discussion was on Chinese tourists obtaining Canadian visas. While 78 per cent of visa applicants are approved at the Beijing office, and 87 per cent approved at the Shanghai office, that doesn't tell the whole story.

Two Beijing travel operators told the conference that Chinese travel agents advise their customers that if they haven't visited Europe or the United States then they should not apply for a Canadian visa, because the refusal rate is very high. "Once an application is declined, a mark will be stamped on the passport and it will then be difficult to obtain a European or US visa," Yiu wrote. "Based on such advice, travelers who apply to travel to Canada are often those who have already obtained a European or US visa."

We are still five years from the vision the Tourism Action Plan laid out in 2007. But the examples above suggest big changes in politics and the economy have to occur before the vision will be realized.

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