Canadian business travellers may soon be on the Fast Track to Asia.
The federal government will start a pilot project to offer the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) business travel card to business people. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement today in Indonesia, where he is attending an APEC summit.
The card has been around since 1997 and allows cardholders faster entry into participating APEC countries. Benefits include dedicated immigration lines and streamlined applications for visas or entry permits.
The Vancouver Board of Trade (VBOT) has been lobbying for Canada to join the program for the past two years.
"Every time we sell to Asia, it means we're creating jobs in this country, so this is a very, very big deal," said VBOT president and CEO Iain Black.
Canada will launch the APEC business travel card this winter. It will be available to Canadian business travellers who are already members of NEXUS, a card which allows them faster entry to the United States.
According to APEC, 34,000 business travel cards were active in 2008, with 40% of those cards issued to Australians.