Caesars Sign

(CBC File Photo)

While Tourism Week is underway in Ontario and the number of visitors in the area is on the rise, according to Tourism Windsor-Essex, Pelee Island, a researcher believes there is a market that's largely untapped.

Some believe the region doesn't have what it takes to host tourists from one of the biggest markets in the world—China.

Marion Joppe, a University of Guelph professor in tourism management said the region should do more because Chinese tourists have different needs than that of others.

"Chinese tourists are shoppers and big spenders," she said.

According to Joppe, that means the types of big shopping centres that are found in and around metropolitan centres.

The Canadian Tourism Commission figures the Chinese tourists spent more than $600 million in Canada last year.

That amounts to a record 334,000 tourists from China visiting Canada, according to the commission.

Zhen Zhong Ma, the president of the Chinese Association of Greater Windsor, said many of those visitors did come to Windsor-Essex.

"More international students come to the University of Windsor," he said. "A lot of Chinese tourists come here to visit the parents, their kids and then they see it's a good place to have a look."

Gordon Orr is the CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island and said the organization doesn't market directly in Asia.

"It's very difficult to do that," he said. "You've got to have the marketing budget to do that." .

Orr said all the agency can do is try to convince Chinese tourists who visit Toronto and Ottawa to come down the 401 to visit.