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WTM-ChinaContact conference analyzes the potential of China`s outbound tourism

No where is it more important to develop a bilateral strategy than when doing business with China. Especially when it comes to tourism, Chinese sensibilities must be considered carefully. An approach that places…

No where is it more important to develop a bilateral strategy than when doing business with China. Especially when it comes to tourism, Chinese sensibilities must be considered carefully. An approach that places

bilateralism at its heart will be richly rewarded.

As China’s outbound tourism market continues to grow and develop, all destinations are considering how best to attract and retain visitors from there. At government level, tourism promotion requires more sensitivity and creativity than other more mature markets. At private sector level, as much emphasis needs to be placed on building relationships and rewarding loyalty as on offering great rates and spending marketing dollars.

Western national tourism boards have been setup with one important function – to promote incoming tourism to their destination. Western tourism companies are split between those selling an inbound destination (suppliers or receptives) and those that sell travel products abroad. Multinational corporations have specific brands or departments to deal with these two very separate sectors.

When it comes to China, however, things are not as straightforward. If Europe wants to increase the benefits of tourism for its travel service providers it must understand how China officially and culturally views

business in general and tourism in particular. The overwhelming role of Chinese governmental institutions is not much understood by Western governments and businesses. The Chinese national, provincial, and city governments greatly influence the development of the tourism sector. Foreign tour operators are not allowed to conduct outbound travel in China in any legal form.

While the emphasis of the Chinese government is clearly on promoting inbound tourism, their control over the outbound travel sector means that they have to be engaged by any country or territory that is interested in

China`s outbound travel market. In recent years this has been done through the `Approved Destination Status` policy (ADS).

On a governmental level bilateral cooperation has political and general economic implications. It has been shown that China rewards its close political or business partners with access to the China outbound travel market. The favourable business climate that is formed out of these relationships leads to higher business and leisure travel in both directions. When Chinese media report on high level political meetings between their

leaders and a foreign nation, this raises interest in this nation as a potential tourist destination.

When Chinese hear of important China related events that take place in a destination, it stimulates their curiosity. In a cultural context, Chinese appreciate those in the West that reach out to China, and normally respond in kind. Countries such as Germany and Australia have been quick to recognise this and benefited from higher tourism arrivals as a result. The United States, thanks to its many business dealings with China, has enjoyed high Chinese visitor numbers for several years.

In business, the current restrictions on trade in services in China requires Western companies to either work with a local partner or focus only on incoming tourism before being allowed to offer outbound travel products in China. Chinese travel companies almost always operate travel business in both directions, and prefer to seek out partners in the West that can reciprocate. This is deemed as a Win-Win scenario and in addition makes international financial transactions easier.

The WTM-ChinaContact conference `China – the future of Travel` which will be held on 6 November 2006 at World Travel Market in London focuses on the need for more bilateral cooperation, and stronger pan-European cooperation. It is a unique opportunity to meet high profile speakers from China that can provide an insight into the workings of the Chinese tourism industry and how to successfully engage it.

Recently confirmed as chair of the panel on bilateral tourism at said conference, Mrs. Shen Huirong is the former Director General of Marketing and Communications at China National Tourism Administration. Having worked at CNTA from 1978 to 2005, she was directly responsible for promoting China in international markets and revitalising China’s tourism marketing drive post-SARS. In her engagement with international governments she has been nicknamed ‘Ms. ADS’ for her pivotal role in developing and negotiating Approved Destination Status agreements with other countries. Who better to help us understand how Europe can benefit from China’s tourism market?

Keynote speakers also include Professor Zhang Guangrui, Director of Tourism Research Centre of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS TRC), Beijing, China and Professor Wolfgang Arlt, an expert on Chinese outbound tourism to Europe.

Only by understanding fully the ideas of bilateral and pan-European cooperation can all European countries benefit. Increasing tourism flows in both directions is not only good for business but contributes to better communication and cultural awareness.

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | + Articles

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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