Delegation looks to grow Asia visitation to Yukon

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, February 13th, 2015
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism & Culture

Tourism is a sustainable, strategic industry for Yukon and a key economic driver contributing $250 million annually to the territory’s private sector revenues. We’ve seen growth across the board over the last several years. This growth is the result of strategic trade partnerships between industry, government and key tourism partners.

Later this month a Yukon tourism trade delegation will embark on a strategic trade mission to Asia to explore opportunities to secure and grow business for group and independent travel to our territory. The Asian markets provide a strategic opportunity for Yukon to increase the number of visitors and spending from overseas markets. China, for example, is becoming the fastest growing market for Canada. From January to August in 2014, there were more than 320,000 visitors to Canada from China. This represents an increase of more than 30 per cent over 2013.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), the Chinese market is the world’s largest travel market by a significant margin and travel to Canada is projected to grow significantly over the next decade. Yukon has recorded a three-fold increase in Chinese visitors crossing its international borders since Canada received Approved Destination Status four years ago. The Commission’s studies suggest that priority experiences sought by Chinese travellers include culture, nature, history, outdoor activities and family travel. Yukon offers travel experiences that are appealing to the Chinese traveller – in particular aurora viewing, wilderness, wildlife, iconic drives, vibrant First Nations culture, and engaging people.

Yukon saw an eight-fold increase in Japanese visitors from 2010 to 2013. Japan was Yukon’s fourth largest overseas market with over 3,800 Japanese visitors in 2013, representing more than 9 per cent of overseas visitors. The strong performance and opportunity of the Japanese market is a result of the successful partnerships between industry, government, the CTC and our Japanese travel trade partners. The Yukon River, hiking, canoeing, dogsledding, nature activities and fall colours all represent potentially strong products for Japanese visitors.

As part of Tourism Yukon’s strategic plan, we will be leading this delegation of Yukon tourism businesses to Asia. The Japan component of the mission will include a number of travel trade events in Osaka and Tokyo with Yukon businesses and over 100 key Japanese tour operators. The trip will also include strategic meetings in China between the department, the CTC and more than 20 Chinese tour operators interested in bringing visitors to Yukon. We expect these meetings will yield a number of cooperative marketing agreements.

Yukon businesses are increasing their capacity and interest in hosting overseas visitors, who typically stay longer and spend more than other Yukon visitors. Missions are an opportunity to raise awareness and improve preparedness, professional development, visibility, goodwill and perspective with key target markets such as Japan and China. By partnering together we can increase tourism revenues for businesses resulting in a stronger tourism sector and economy for the benefit of all Yukoners.