I appreciate the opportunity to visit you here today. Laureen and I are enjoying this, our first morning, on this, our second official visit to China. We are very pleased to be able to attend the official opening of the marketing centre of the Canadian Tourism Commission, here at the headquarters of the China Youth Tourism Service.
I also want to give a special welcome to a friend who needs no introduction here in China - that’s Canada’s very own Mark Rowswell, or as you know him, Dashan. Dashan is a remarkable goodwill ambassador between Canada and China, and I’m counting on all of his millions of fans here in China to plan to visit us in Canada in the future.
I must say that Laureen and I feel particularly at home today as the Canadian Tourism Commission’s feature summer marketing campaign for 2012 highlights Canada’s West, including our hometown of Calgary and the world-famous Calgary Stampede. We’re joined here by many people from that part of the country - I should note the presence of famous Alberta performer Paul Brandt, and of course, the presence of Harry, Harry the Horse, that is. Harry is, of course, the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial mascot, and we’re also excited to have him here with us in Beijing. Harry’s busiest week of the year is in July, when Calgary invites the world to help celebrate its ranching heritage.
Bull riding - trying to stay on horses that haven’t been saddle broken - wrestling with ornery stirs that don’t want to be roped: it’s all an amazing competition based on the skills that built Western Canada. That, and the Chuckwagon races, the parade, the entertainment, the pancake breakfast, and of course, the great, world-renowned Calgary hospitality. There’s a reason why it’s called “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, and so it will be in this, the Stampede’s 100th year. I hope thousands of our Chinese friends are able to come and share this milestone with us.
Ladies and gentlemen, the tourism industry is particularly valuable. It’s one of the few industries in the world whose raw material is goodwill and whose finished product is friendship. Now, I think the world needs all the friendship and goodwill it can get, and I think your own government agrees.
That’s why two years ago our government was pleased that Canada received Approved Destination Status, making it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Canada. And already the growth in visits from your country to ours has taken off. During the past 12 months, close to a quarter million visitors from China have travelled to Canada, an almost 25 percent increase over the previous year.
Friends, I can assure you that Canada, as the second largest land mass in the world, has everything you could want in one package: the rugged outdoors for adventure and thrills, the great indoors for the best shopping and dining, premium entertainment, glorious landscapes, a pristine environment, and best of all, the friendliest people on the planet. As they say, it’s all there waiting for you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to congratulate the Canadian Tourism Commission on establishing its presence here with the China Youth Tourism Service, and working hard to introduce a whole new generation of Chinese travellers to Canada.
Come and visit us. Let’s get to know each other better, and build that friendship and goodwill between our two peoples.