Tourists from China are behind a boom in tourism that has put them second behind Americans in visits to Canada.
The U.K., which held the number two spot for three decades, fell to third place, according to Statistics Canada.
The government agency began tracking travel data back in 1972.
The numbers are still not what they were, however, prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
Four million visitors a month
In the late 1990’s, Canada welcomed over four million visitors a month.
Foreign visits to Canada plunged in the wake of 9/11, which was followed the next year by the SARS outbreak, that further isolated the country.
Then the financial collapse of 2008 left many without the discretionary spending that allowed for international travel.
These factors were then compounded by unfavourable exchange rates that made 2010 the worst year for tourists since 1972.
But in 2010, the Chinese government gave Canada “Approved Destination Status”.
According to one tour operator, based in Richmond, British Columbia, Chinese visitors are drawn by Canada’s majestic landscapes, including the Rockie Mountains and Niagara Falls.
And many now have relatives in Canada, particularly on the west-coast.
Canada’s many old Chinese communities in the big cities and towns provide a culinary surprise for these visitors when they discover they can eat as well as they might in Hong Kong.
With files from CBC