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About the Canada-China Inbound Tour Operator Registration Program


On June 24, 2010, The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada (DFAIT) and the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate outbound tourist group travel from China to Canada. The Chinese government had requested Canada to present a list of qualified Canadian Inbound Tour Operators. According to the MOU, both governments should ensure that the CNTA-designated travel agencies and the Canadian incorporated tour operators select their business partners from each other’s lists and conclude business contracts with them.

China has signed bilateral agreements with countries that were granted the Approved Destination Status (ADS) in order to facilitate the ability of leisure travel groups to travel outside of the country. Travelers may only use travel agents approved by the CNTA to conduct outbound travel. Likewise, a Chinese travel agent may only use an inbound tour operator that is on an approved list of the destination country to arrange leisure travel for Chinese groups.

Tour operators in the destination country must have policies and procedures in place to ensure that Chinese groups would have the best possible travel experience and have access to Chinesespeaking guides, materials, etc. In many countries who have the ADS agreement, it is the government who is in charge of regulating it tour operators to ensure compliance with specific policies and procedures and supply the qualified tour operator list to the CNTA.

In Canada, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is the organization that helps the Canadian government to fulfill that role. The Canada-China Inbound Tour Operator Accreditation Program has been implemented since May 2010 to fulfill the requirement of the MOU signed by DFAIT and the CNTA. In advance of the signing, With the help of many Canadian tourism industry players, TIAC had done a fair amount of due diligence to examine international regimes and best practices relating the certification of ADS compliant inbound tour operators (ITO) and in developing a set of qualifying criteria for Canadian ITOs.

Before the anniversary of the accreditation program, TIAC has conducted a thorough consultation process with stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness of the program. Based on the comments received, TIAC has decided to change the Accreditation Program to Canada-China Inbound Tour Operator Registration Program (Registration Program). A new associate membership category called ADS membership will be given to members of the Registration Program to provide a forum for the ADS tour operators to work with TIAC to nurture this new market segment.

Registration Criteria/Code of Conduct

In order to be eligible for the registration, Tour Operators must meet the following requirements:

  1. The Tour Operators must at all times operate according to the highest business and ethical standards and respect all applicable laws and regulations in the region and province or territory in which it operates. This may include, but is not limited to, tour operator/travel agent licensing requirements, insurance requirements, employment laws and conditions, taxation and so on;
  2. The Tour Operators must have been in the inbound tourism business in Canada for a minimum of two years and must demonstrate on-going and long term commitment to the outbound travel market from China to Canada, and a strong desire to participate in marketing Canada as a destination in the China market, including the continuous development of ADS and other China outbound tourism market opportunities;
  3. The Tour Operators shall only work with and receive tour groups from ADS approval travel agents in China that have been authorized by the CNTA;
  4. The Tour Operators shall be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and hold a current GST number (if gross revenue exceeds $30,000 per year);
  5. The Tour Operators must submit proof of a comprehensive general public liability insurance policy with a minimum coverage of $1 million with a reputable insurance underwriting company;
  6. The Tour Operator must submit proof of a general errors and omissions insurance policy to cover financial default of failure to render service of $1 million with a reputable insurance underwriting company;
  7. The Tour Operators must maintain a third-party hired/non-owned/owned auto/motor coach liability insurance with a reputable insurance underwriting company in the amount required by the jurisdiction in which the vehicles operate; and to ensure that all subcontractors and for-hire entities, particularly in the transportation filed, adhere to all laws and regulations governing hours of service for drivers and the statutory maintenance and safety laws and regulations including safety inspection of their vehicles.
  8. The Tour Operators must submit criminal record checks and credit reports of the business’ owner and CEO/President.
  9. The Tour Operators shall ensure that the ADS approved travel agents in China and ADS leisure group travelers receive high quality tours, services, and fair pricing, the Tour Operators must:
    1. Ensure the well-being and safety of all leisure group travelers during the tour; provide them with accurate information about the products and services;
    2. Ensure that the ADS leisure group travel in Canada shall be in consistent with the approved itinerary and that any changes to the itinerary must be approved by the group tourists and/or their travel agent. The itinerary shall state clearly any and all applicable charges, including any services charges or tips expected to be paid for by the leisure group travelers on the itinerary.
    3. Ensure that the full cost of operating the ADS tour is covered by the tour price.
    4. Ensure that the ADS leisure group has a qualified tour guide fluent in Mandarin Chinese. The tour guide shall meet all statutory federal, provincial/territorial and municipal licensing and regulatory requirements and to act in a professional manner at all times. The tour guide shall follow the itinerary provided by the Tour Operator and is prohibited to receive shopping commissions from any shopping destination.
    5. Ensure that all suppliers and contractors utilized for the ADS leisure travel group are sufficiently licensed, maintain up-to-date registration and insurance and are in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations relevant to their tour functions.
    6. Ensure that, while promoting Canadian goods and services to ADS Chinese travelers, shopping opportunities presented shall be conducted without coercion at reputable shopping facilities, with quality products, with the greatest care for visitor safety and well-being.
  10. The Tour Operator is fully responsible for all aspects of its business operations and performance, including any parts in which a sub-contractor or sub-agent is used, and is accountable for the actions of all its associates, including its officers, employees and those of any sub-contractors or sub-agents.
  11. The Tour Operator must keep all ADS tour related information and documents in record in case of any complaint investigation.

Registration Procedure

Tour Operators who would like to get on the Registration list can apply for the approval from TIAC. In the first year, ADS applicants will be subject to a detailed assessment by TIAC. In subsequent two years, the renewal process will be condensed and simplified.

The first year’s registration fee will be $3,000 plus applicable taxes. The annual renewal fee will be $1,200 plus applicable taxes. The annual fees will include a TIAC associate membership.

For tour operators who have been approved in the Accreditation Program will be transferred to the Registration Program. The fees they have paid include two more years’ registration fees and a two-year TIAC associate membership (from the day of their first anniversary in the accreditation program).

However, if one wishes to withdraw or one is removed from list for whatever reasons, no refund will be granted.

The Registration List and any addition or removal will be posted on TIAC’s website and given to the CNTA.

The normal process time for the registration normally is two weeks from the date the application is received.

The ADS registration application packages are available on TIAC’s website at tiac.travel and the completed application should be sent to

China-Canada Inbound Tour Operator Registration Program
c/o Tourism Industry Association of Canada
116 Lisgar Street, Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0C2
Tel: 613-288-5747
Fax: 613-238-3878

Click here for more information on applying.

For additional information, please contact:

Grace Xin, National Director
China-Canada Inbound Tour Operator Registration Program
c/o Tourism Industry Association of Canada
116 Lisgar Street, Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0C2
Tel: 613-288-5747
Fax: 613-238-3878

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