TORONTO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Canadian metropolis of Toronto has Chinese travelers to thank for driving growth in the city's tourism sector.
In an interview with Xinhua, Andrew Weir, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Tourism Toronto, said he expects Chinese tourists to bring about "more meaningful growth not just for Toronto but for all of Canada."
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), an 18-percent growth of Chinese visitors in Canada in 2017 has generated an additional revenue of nearly 1.25 billion Canadian dollars (1 billion U.S. dollars).
"We're seeing travelers from around the world including Mexico, Brazil and Germany, but the strongest growth has come out of China," Weir said, adding that the tourism community in Toronto "has done a better job of making services and information available in Mandarin."
Weir said Toronto has been focusing a lot on making Chinese customers' experience in the city more satisfactory. One example of that effort is the adoption of Alipay and UnionPay -- two popular Chinese payment methods -- in stores and hotels throughout the city.
"I think the travelers are generally having a very positive experience here. I can't speak for every individual traveler, but on the whole we're seeing growth year after year."
Not only has UnionPay, the most widely-used payment option in China, been present in Canadian cities since late June, it can also be used by Chinese travelers to pay for online visa applications.
According to the IRCC, which allows the use of UnionPay to settle visa application fees, 23 percent of all temporary resident visa applications it received in 2017 were from Chinese citizens.
With the launching of the Canada-China Year of Tourism on March 21 in Toronto, the two countries have shown a resolve to further promote tourism cooperation. In 2017, more than 1.5 million visits were made between the two countries.
Canada has set the goal of doubling the number of Chinese tourists visiting the country by 2021. To reach the target, it has recently opened seven new visa application centers in China.
"We're really working hard as a community to be ready for the Chinese traveler ... The feedback from travelers all around the world, including Chinese travelers, has been very very positive," Weir said.