Mountain News: 

Banff-Lake Louise plan to target Chinese

Compiled by Allen Best

BANFF, Alberta — The Banff, Lake Louise Tourism Bureau is beginning to target skiers from Korea, China, and Mexico.

Across the West, tourism businesses have becoming increasingly aware of the potentially staggering impact of tourists from China. The door for Canadian resorts will open when the Chinese government grants "approved destination status," which the Canadian Tourism Commission expects will happen soon.

However, a story in the Globe and Mail this week stated that China was withholding approved destination status for Canada as punishment for Canada not turning over China’s most wanted fugitive, Lai Changxing. Lai has claimed refugee status and fought a lengthy legal battle to avoid deportation. China says he was involved in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country’s history.

In the five years since Canada began negotiating approved destination status 63 other countries have concluded the same agreement in much less time, according to the Globe and Mail.

Approved destination status allows a country to advertise tourism in China and to receive Chinese tour groups.

Last year China passed Japan as the biggest Asian tourism source, with 24 million Chinese travelling abroad. One study cited by the Globe and Mail estimated that 1.9 million Chinese tourists would be keen to visit Canada if permitted. However, without approved destination status only about 75,000 Chinese visit Canada each year, most on business.

Ski resorts in the Banff area have also begun courting Mexicans, who already frequent eastern Canada (as well as Colorado) resorts in large numbers.

Meanwhile, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, the Banff-area resorts hope to continue to grow their existing strong markets. British skiers represent close to 40 per cent of destination skiers, while air service from Germany has improved. Meanwhile, Japan’s economy, although still sub-par, is finally recovering.

But Canadian resorts have their hands full, most importantly because of the strength of the Canadian dollar. While business and conference markets are expected to grow 10 per cent in the United States this year, little of that money is expected to find its way to Canada. Moreover, Canadians looking to make their dollars go further are likely to head south of the border.

Gay ski week numbers sliding

ASPEN, Colo. — In its 28 th year, the Aspen Gay and Lesbian Ski Week was attracting fewer skiers than before even if it remains bigger than other gay ski weeks that are staged at resorts across the West.

Whistler’s event, now in its 13 th year, is probably the biggest, with 40 parties and other productions spread across seven days. There are also gay skier weeks at Mammoth Mountain and in Summit County, both in Colorado (Breckenridge, et al) and in Utah (Park City, et al). As well, Telluride has a gay week.

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