Now that Approved Destination Status has been approved for Chinese tourists to visit Canada, and Canadian tour operators to market to the 1.3 billion people in China, we in Whistler have some very good news.
I have visited the Peoples' Republic five times in the last four years on Whistler Forum and other matters. Like Prime Minister Stephen Harper I have seen first hand the many mutual opportunities there are to strengthen the gateways to Asia. Some high-level Chinese officials and delegations have visited Whistler. Now is the time to build on these relationships with those in China looking for education, recreation and sustainable development.
And yet as with our Prime Minister, many in China and Canadian officials I have spoken to there have also wondered why we have not engaged with them more seriously. In Whistler we have some catching up to do, if as well as the regional, American and European market, we want to advance our interests and values with China and the complex emerging markets of Asia.
Through our Whistler Forum leadership programs we know senior officials in the National Peoples' Congress, Canadian Embassy in Beijing, the Canada-China Business Council and at the Party School's China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong Shanghai. Most recently we worked with CELAP on a Canada-China Forum on Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility.
Through Leadership Sea to Sky Cohorts III and IV we explored the strategic opportunities in education, tourism and sustainable development. We took a delegation of 26 to promote Whistler's work in sustainability and accessibility during the Paralympics last September at the B.C.-Canada Pavilion.
We have been asked by officials in Yunnan Province in southwest China to partner with tourism and local government officials in Shangri-la. And Tu Weiming, a leading expert in Confucianism, gave us a Chinese name: "Wei st ler ( 维 思 乐 )," the "pleasure of thinking together."
It is true that many leaders and officials in Whistler are busy with other priorities. It is also the case that when Intrawest sold off its interests in resort developments in China, that Melco and other Hong Kong investors stepped into the mountain provinces of Jilin, Xinjiang and Heilongjiang.
But with concerted efforts and collaborative leadership in Whistler and throughout the corridor we can rise to the challenges of this new day.
In 2010 we will host a Forum on Chinese Cuisine Sunday, Jan. 24, and a Celebration of the Chinese New Year Sunday, Feb. 14 th . We are also planning a Leadership Sea to Sky tour to present at the Canada Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo Sept. 15 to 22.