A delegation from Greater Victoria meets with officials during a trade mission to China and Japan last month. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the trip will pay dividends down the road for local businesses and individuals. (Facebook)

Asia trade mission will strengthen Victoria tourism, local economy: mayor

City business representatives enjoy fruitful meetings with Asian counterparts

Victoria tourism and business will see a boost following the a multi-faceted trade expedition to China and Japan, according to Mayor Lisa Helps.

“Mission accomplished,” she said, noting that the overseas meetings facilitated export opportunities for local businesses that will benefit the local economy.

Business deals are already in the works following the 10-day export-based trade mission last month.

“If Victoria-based companies export goods and services to China, that means they’re growing their business here, it creates jobs here, creates more income here, and that was really the main focus of the mission,” Helps said.

In China, 2018 has been named the “Year of Canadian Tourism.” Helps expects to see more visitors following Tourism Victoria’s presentation at Destination Canada Showcase Asia.

“We will tangibly see more tourists coming to Victoria, which is really good for local business,” she said. “Tourists want to do what the locals do. As the tourism economy grows, the coffee shops will grow, the restaurants will grow, the experiential tourism opportunities will grow, like cycling, like walking tours.”

Another highlight for Helps was the opportunity to get Shanghai on board with Victoria’s bid for the Canadian Smart Cities Challenge.

The initiative makes available funding from the federal government for cities that use technology and data to solve such regional problems as transportation, environment and housing, as well as to improve a city’s livability. Grants range from $5 million to $50 million, depending on city size.

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Dallas Gislason is economic development officer with the South Island Prosperity Project, which facilitated meetings during the trade mission between Asian business officials and those from Greater Victoria. Improving relationships with China makes sense, he said, given its standing as B.C.’s second-largest trading partner after the U.S.

“NAFTA is in negotiations right now, and we have an administration in the U.S. that’s very nationalistic and protective,” Gislason said. “This presents a good case for us to help our economy.”

Anecdotally, he added, of the eight Victoria-area businesses that made the trip – some representatives paid their own way while others were sponsored by their companies – all of them felt it was a worthwhile investment.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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