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Live There, Visit Here: Mr. & Mrs. Ho, Intrepid Adventurers

The Hos on Capilano Suspension BridgeWe recently did some market research in China and found that 49% of those surveyed said that they would like to visit Vancouver in the next two years. Which is exactly what Mr. and Mrs. Ho just did.

Like many first-time visitors – not to mention locals returning home from abroad - the Hos were wowed by our beautiful airport. The aquarium, the art collection and the West Coast design of the terminal all combines to create a unique sense of place.

The Hos got directions from the B.C. Visitors Centre in International arrivals and headed downtown on the Canada Line. This rapid transit link is one of the most important community investments we’ve ever made – for passengers, for employees, for our environmental impact as an airport that strives to operate sustainably. Since it opened in 2009, the Canada Line has been wildly popular, carrying thousands of people - at least 17 percent of airport employees and our passengers coming to Sea Island every day.

The Hos enjoyed their visit to Metro Vancouver. They explored Richmond’s Steveston Village and its great seafood, strolled through Gastown’s cobbled streets and toured our local rainforest up close at Capilano Suspension Bridge. 

The Hos flew to YVR from Guangzhou on China Southern, a relatively new service that celebrated its second anniversary this year.  YVR was the first and remains the only Canadian non-stop destination served by China Southern. 

Independent research shows that a new daily international flight generates between 150 and 200 direct jobs at the airport—servicing the plane, its passengers and cargo. We also found that this same new flight supports another 300 to 400 direct jobs in the tourism sector—hotels, restaurants, tour companies and local attractions.

In just a single day, our travellers connected with: an airport Green Coat volunteer; hotel concierge; housekeeping staff; taxi driver; coffee shop barista, trolley driver, Capilano Suspension Bridge tour guide; Grouse Mountain tram operator; Gastown souvenir shop owner; server at the Steveston fish and chip shop; the White Spot chef who prepared a pair of Monty Mushroom burgers for the Hos- and many others who make their living in Metro Vancouver’s tourism industry.

Allow me to drive this point home one more time:  One daily international flight from China creates 450 to 600 direct jobs in British Columbia. A new non-stop flight makes it easier for tourists like the Hos to access all that beautiful B.C. has to offer.

We’ve seen this happen before. When Air New Zealand began non-stop service to Vancouver in 2007 about 20,000 New Zealanders visited B.C. every year.  That number jumped to 30,000 a year with the advent of the new service.  And we saw it again this summer, when Lufthansa began seasonal non-stop service to Munich.  German tourists to B.C. jumped by 15% in the first month alone. We know that travellers have choices. But if it’s easier to get to B.C., they will come here, and we all benefit.

To recap, I am asking the federal government to open our skies, keep funding passenger screening and for my last request, simplify the visa process. Canada’s visa application process is onerous. Among the issues: too many forms, language barriers and even having to surrender your original documentation.
Canada is working on this. It’s considering a 10-year multiple entry visa. Wait times for a visa in China have gone from two months to an average of 16 days, now that part of the process is online. But our competition is beating us. So, if international travellers have a choice between San Francisco and Vancouver, they’re going to pick the destination with the quickest visa turnaround time. And it’s not us. It took the Hos 16 days to get their Canadian visas. But if they looked into it they would have discovered that they could get US visas in just four days.  Here’s a crazy thought: why couldn’t you enter Canada with a US visa? And vice versa? Is there that much difference between the two countries processes and desired outcomes?

It all comes down to easy connections. What Mike, Nalini, Mr. and Mrs. Ho and our B.C. cherries all have in common is that their paths cross at YVR - the place that makes connections that work.

And to support their journeys, 23,600 people have jobs at YVR, from ground handlers and airport operations officers to customs agents, cleaning staff, airside emergency responders, accountants – and one airport CEO, for which I am very thankful.

Hopefully, my requests for the government don't sound too strident given what it has done for the Canadian airport model and for our ongoing partnership. know that we share a vision to make B.C. and Canada economically vibrant and competitive. But I also believe that we can agree on policy changes that are far simpler than the decades-old change that was the National Airports Policy. The changes we seek today don’t cost any money. And these changes will build global connections, create local jobs and invest in our communities.

For YVR, Metro Vancouver and British Columbia, our best years are ahead of us. We’re on are the cusp of global greatness, connecting B.C. to the world, adding millions more passengers and thousands of jobs. We just need the government to remove these impediments to trade.

At the heart of this extraordinary operation is the Airport Authority itself - a company whose sole reason for being is to enable these connections to work - to provide the runways, taxiways, terminals, baggage systems, ground access and expertise which keeps it all working safely 24 hours a day, every day, in sun, rain and fog.

I hope these stories bring to life YVR’s importance as a community asset, economic driver and job creator. 

Watch these journeys converge at the best airport in North America in this video.

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