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Harnessing China’s tourism boom: Insights from ATM Dubai 2024

China Summit ATM 2024

Experts discuss strategies to attract Chinese travelers at ATM Dubai 2024, emphasizing cultural and luxury experiences in the Middle East.

REPORT – Arabian Travel Market, Dubai, UAE – Capitalising on China‘s projected tourism growth was a key topic at the Market Insights Summit at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024. The summit, which took place on the Global Stage at the Middle East’s leading travel and tourism exhibition, explored the potential of developing markets such as China.

During the dedicated session, a panel of experts delved into effective strategies for attracting and engaging Chinese travellers. The panel included Sukhpreet Singh Ghataura, Director of Ecosystem Development at MEAI Huawei, Lu Pan, Marketing VP at Shanghai Dongfang Newspaper Co., Ltd, and Sienna Parulis Cook, Director of Marketing and Communications at Dragon Trail International.

Sharing the latest research from Huawei’s Petal Ads platform, Ghataura said: “Between Q1 2023 and Q1 2024 the number of outbound Chinese tourists visiting the Middle East increased by 54%, with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia being the top destinations in the region for Chinese travellers. In 2023, China accounted for 10% of global travel, with a collective spending of approximately US $265 billion. The primary driver for China’s outbound tourists is the cultural experiences they can enjoy in foreign destinations.” He added: “In terms of when they travel, notable seasons are the May Day holiday, China National Day and the Spring Festival.”

According to Huawei’s research, 66% of people travelling to the Middle East are looking to engage in cultural experiences, and the majority of outbound Chinese tourists are motivated by factors such as luxury offerings and sporting attractions. The research also identified a significant spike in the senior middle-class segment who prefer quality travel and have access to a higher disposable income.

Parulis Cook commented: “In terms of the consumer research that Dragon Trail International has conducted, we can see major growth this year in terms of consumer confidence and intention to travel. In 2023, 30% of Chinese travellers said they would not leave China to travel, this figure is now down to 10%. Of the travellers that we surveyed this year, 5% had already travelled, and 18% had booked travel – of this, 94% had booked travel to more than one destination. This means that if they are visiting Europe, they will be travelling to multiple destinations within that region.”

Cook highlights that scenery is one of the main factors motivating tourists to leave China and that travellers are looking to experience nature and culture that is vastly different from their home country. Pan adds that in addition to traditional and digital marketing platforms, word of mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to promoting travel and tourism to Chinese tourists. She describes China’s outbound tourism recovery as an “upward spiral” rather than linear growth.

Pan concludes: “Tourism boards should prioritise storytelling by effectively communicating the stories about their businesses, destinations, and cultures and showing a genuine interest in their target audience to build trust.”

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