P.E.I. tourism industry taking new steps to meet growing demand of Chinese visitors
'We just want to be able to get in on the ground floor and be there when we can take advantage of it'
Island businesses and the provincial government are developing new strategies to meet the demand of more Chinese visitors.
That includes Target Tours, a touring company that's taken new steps to cater to Chinese tourists.
"For us, the China market is the one that we're looking at and we're seeing that there's more and more coming year after year once the area becomes known to the China market," said company president John Dunphy.
The touring company, which does bus tours throughout the Maritimes, has recently partnered with local Chinese touring company, Go East Tours, to set up programs delivered exclusively in Mandarin.
"It's one of the fastest growing markets for Canada so we just want to be able to get in on the ground floor and be there when we can take advantage of it," he said.
Canada-China Year of Tourism
Dunphy has actually made trade missions to Beijing and Shanghai to establish contacts as part of the federal Department of Economic Development's Canada-China Year of Tourism.
According to their website, 682,000 tourists from China visited Canada last year. The department has launched an online toolkit to give local tourism markets the resources to meet the demand of the influx of Chinese tourists.
The new Mandarin tour program for Target Tours will be developed over the next three to five years according to Dunphy, who said they're hoping to hire two Chinese guides for next year.
New payment system for Chinese tourists
The province is also encouraging tourism operators to add Motion Pay, a popular payment system in China, which allows customers to make purchases with their mobile devices.
"There's a real focus and need to have convenience for the Chinese customer so we wanted to take action on that," said Kevin Mouflier, the CEO for Tourism Industry Association of PEI (TIAPEI).
"Making sure that we take care of our tourists and our customers is a primary issue that we want to make sure is front and centre."
The system is fairly new to the region, but Mouflier said the goal is to have hotels, cottages, and golf courses incorporate the new payment system at their businesses.
"Our goal is really that it grows and being it is new to Atlantic Canada, I believe that it's going to take some time but again I believe there's going to be a strong demand for that."
'Another opportunity to welcome'
He said so far, there are three golf courses that have Motion Pay, all belonging to PEI's Finest Golf.
Ryan Garrett, general manager of PEI's Finest Golf, said the hope is to accommodate any Asian guests that come to the golf courses.
"This new motion pay system is another opportunity to welcome them," Garrett said. "Any increase in business because of a new payment type would be great."