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Tourism Richmond sets sights on China

It’s not just the City of Richmond that sees the potential fruits of investing in the fortification of relationships in China.

Tourism Richmond has long identified China as a major player in the economic fortunes of Lulu Island.

“When we were in China in March, we had a number of opportunities to meet with tour operators and the media and one of the comments that came out loud and clear was the opportunity for education tourism,” Tourism Richmond CEO Tracy Lakeman said.

Education tourism involves families visiting a region to check out universities and educational institutions for their children, she said. Sometimes, during these visits, visitors will purchase real estate, or a parent may stay in the country while the child is studying .

But families from Asia are “absolutely looking at Lower Mainland and Eastern Canada for university opportunities.”

Parents and students have come to the realization that in order to study in Canada, they need to upgrade their English skills, and it’s here where local schools, such as Kwantlen Polytechnic and the Richmond Board of Education, can address a need.

“We see a very, very clear opportunity for Richmond for the preparations courses.”

When visitors come to Richmond, they contribute directly, Lakeman said, to the local, provincial and federal economies through their taxes.

“That’s the direct link between tourism and the local economy,” Lakeman said, noting that in 2011, tourism contributed an estimated $14 million to the local government.

In hopes of luring visitors here, tour operators in China are working with Tourism Richmond to put together packages for them to check out our education system, Lakeman said. Those packages are being developed in cooperation with Kwantlen and the Richmond board of education.

“We’re in the relationship business. We go to our customers.”

Last week, Tourism Richmond signed an oath of mutual tourism assistance with Xiamen’s tourism organization. Xiamen and Richmond were long friendship cities, and that relationship was last week elevated to sister city.

“Tourism Richmond is very excited and honoured by our tourism partnership with Xiamen and moving forward, we will strive to deepen that relationship and the understanding between our cities in an effort to grow travel trade relations to our mutual benefit,” said Tourism Richmond sales director Gayle Morris.

Lakeman visited Beijing and Shanghai to develop relationships with key Chinese travel influencers, partners and to explore opportunities for further collaboration.

“China is not only Canada’s fastest growing tourism market, but also Richmond’s, and it is a priority for us,” Lakeman said in March. “As the gateway to British Columbia and Canada, and as a destination that offers all the comforts of home to the Chinese visitor, Richmond is well positioned as a place to travel and explore, purchase real estate and conduct business for China.”

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