Members of the first-ever Chinese tour group allowed to come to Canada were greeted at Vancouver International Airport yesterday by Mounties and officials handing out Canada flags.

The 350 people booked trips through tour operators in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

They’re the first leisure travellers to visit since China granted Canada Approved Destination Status (ADS) in June.

One nine-year-old traveller, whose English name is Dragon Boy, said he’s most looking forward to seeing mountains and a black bear.

Du Chang, vice chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, said this is the largest tour group to any country so far, adding, “We just landed and already we feel the heartfelt welcome of Canada.”

Stockwell Day, Asia-Pacific gateway minister, said the ADS is expected to bring 100 million international travellers from China by 2020.

Chinese travellers injected $260.6 million into the Canadian economy in 2009.