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Canada's Prince Edward Island eyes more Chinese visitors

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-28 07:35
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Prince Edward Island in Canada draws visitors with its beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and activities to experience as an islander. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious food and world-class golf facilities.

It is a must-visit place for foodies, who can sample fresh seafood, ranging from lobster and oysters to mussels.

Visitors can also experience hiking and cycling, or join artisans and musicians to experience life as an islander.

"Tourism is very important to our economy. We attach great importance to the Chinese market and see an increase of Chinese visitors to the island in recent years," says Heath MacDonald, the province's minister of Economic Development and Tourism, who recently visited Beijing.

The island is home to about 150,000 residents and had about 1.5 million visitors in 2016, 90.9 percent of whom were domestic.

The total tourism expenditure in the province last year was about $430 million.

The minister says that they are working with Chinese tour operators and travel bloggers to promote the island in China, and they are also integrating Mandarin speakers into the tourism industry for the convenience of Chinese visitors.

"About 10 percent of our university and post-secondary students are Chinese, and the local Chinese community is also growing. So, it is a good base for us to attract Chinese visitors," says MacDonald.

According to him, China is the island's second-largest trading partner after the United States, and 80 percent of its exports to China comprise lobsters.

The island's lobster is known for its hard shell and juicy meat.

Speaking about what Chinese visitors want, he says: "For them, the major trend is experience tourism, and that is also what we are catering to. It is not just about sightseeing. They want to go lobster fishing and dig clams on a guided kayak tour. They like to have lobster dinners on the beach and cook lobsters on open fires, with live music and wine," he says.

He adds that as the middle class in China grows, it wants to broaden its horizons through overseas travel.

In February, Air Canada started a flight between Shanghai and Montreal, and the minister believes this is a big benefit for Prince Edward Island as a destination because Montreal is less than two hours by air from the island.

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