Weston promotes the Olympics in Asia 

MP now focusing on tourism industry’s concerns about Mexican visa requirement

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Whistler's Member of Parliament believes Canada needs to do a better job promoting the Olympics and Paralympics to the world.

John Weston, MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, said he was surprised during his recent trip to Asia how little people knew about the 2010 Winter Games, including members of the Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

"People were hearing from me for the first time about aspects of the Games - the basics," said Weston, who visited Hong Kong and Taiwan during his trip.

"Things like the number of days the Games will take place, the fact that we expect three billion people to view us by television, and that there may be 75 million people viewing the website."

Weston travelled to Hong Kong and Taiwan this summer with the duel purpose of promoting Canadian businesses and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

During his trip, he gave a speech to Hong Kong's Chamber of Commerce and met with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and Taiwan's opposition leader Ing-wen Tsai.

This week, Weston enthusiastically described the highlights of his trip, which included pinning a 2010 Winter Games Pin on President Ma's lapel.

"It is fair to say that the further away you go from Vancouver, the less people know (about the Olympics). But at the same time, we have a great opportunity because of the good will for Canada and B.C.," said the first-term MP.

"People really love our community and want to come here. I think we can get some leverage by promoting that more aggressively in those markets and I am sure that will happen in the next few months leading up to the Games."

Weston has strong connections to Eastern Asia. Before becoming an MP, Weston lived in Asia for 10 years, where he learned to speak Mandarin, set up the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei and ran an international law firm.

Now that he has returned to Canada, though, Weston is focusing on the federal government's recent visa requirement for Mexican travelers.

On Monday Weston met with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, to discuss the concerns he has heard from people in his riding about how the visa requirement could impact tourism.

"I have got a call into Barrett Fisher, and I have been speaking with other people who share my concern for tourism in our riding," said Weston.

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