Whistler's efforts to market the resort to Chinese visitors got another boost last week with the announcement that China Eastern Airlines would be increasing flights between Vancouver and Shanghai to two a day, bringing the total number of all weekly flights from China to YVR to 75 - the most of any airport in North America.
Flights will connect up to 204,000 travellers in 2013 alone, according to Margaret Meng, general manager of China Eastern Airlines Canada. "We respect and value the Canadian market and have worked hard to provide good value for our customers by investing in new aircraft on the YVR-PVG route, upgrading onboard services and even redesigning our cabin crew uniforms."
China Eastern Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the world, carrying approximately 80 million customers each year with its fleet of 430 aircraft.
The announcement is expected to generate the equivalent of 470 full time jobs, both with the airline and at YVR, and in B.C.'s tourism industry. Visitors will generate $17.3 million in wages, $9.7 million in taxes and $27.7 million towards provincial Gross Domestic Product.
Premier Christy Clark welcomed the news.
"China Eastern's expansion of air services is another sign of increasing travel and trade between B.C. and China," she said. "Expanding air services are another way we can leverage B.C.'s competitive advantages to increase trade, create jobs and support communities."
In June, Pique reported that Chinese arrivals into Vancouver increased by 18 per cent over the previous year, and future increases of 25 to 30 per cent were forecast.
The Chinese market is still small for Whistler but is expected to grow, prompting Destination BC to host a Worldhost Service workshop to teach Tourism Whistler how to relate and provide service for Chinese visitors.