Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Feb 18, 2019

Operator fears China dispute could hurt travel to other destinations


Tour operator Silk Holidays says the current dispute between Ottawa and Beijing is already cutting into Canadian visitations to China and warns that other Asian destinations’ tourist trades could suffer as well if those tensions drag on.

Silk Holidays’ Ricky Poon told Canadian Travel Press that the company has seen fewer inquiries for China since the start of the dispute, which has received a lot of media attention and has seen two Canadians detained in China in what some suggest is Chinese retaliation for the Vancouver arrest of Huawei executive Wanzhou Meng, who American authorities want extradited to the United States.

Poon said his company has seen China cancellations and there are “less inquiries for China since December,” adding even if tensions ease it could take months for tourist traffic to rebound to normal levels.

He also cautioned the dispute could lead to a drop in Canadian traffic to other points in Asia as most Canadians who “visit China will extend their trip” to another Asian destination.

But Poon stated that Canadians shouldn’t avoid China because of the current situation, with Silk Holidays telling Canadians that “China is still open for tourists, just be cautious in meeting people and don’t bring in sensitive publications.”

Alan Law of GLP World-wide also said he believes it’s okay to now visit China, noting he’ll be joining his wife and son on a China visit in a few weeks, and returning to the Asian nation in September to escort a group.

“For someone nervous about going to China, it wouldn’t be my place to convince them to go or not to go,” Law said. “It will be dependent on their own circumstances and what they are nervous about.

“But, as of this moment there isn’t any travel ban in place and current risk level is the same as to the UK and France or even the Bahamas.”

Global Affairs Canada said on of Feb. 13 that Canadians visiting China should exercise “a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” The “high degree of caution” advisory is being applied to the other countries Law mentioned, with Global Affairs Canada mentioning the possibility of terrorism in Britain and France.

Law reported that some clients who have concerns about being in China in the near future have wondered about possible alternate arrangements but the company hasn’t had to make any actual changes to itineraries yet because of the current tensions.

Meanwhile, Poon said his company is seeing a drop in the number of Chinese clients coming here, apparently a result of the dispute.