2 min read

China focusing on inbound tourism

China focusing on inbound tourism

Dear reader,

This week finds your humble editor in his hometown Berlin for the annual gathering of everybody who is anybody in global tourism: ITB 2024, back from CoViD restrictions, but hampered by strikes by German train drivers and German airport staff.

The Chinese exhibitors were back and so was “China Night”. Your humble editor even won a prize at the lucky draw during the China Night, a mascot from the 2022 Winter Olympics.

More importantly, on the first day of the fair, on Tuesday March 5th 2024, WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation, organized again a China-related panel as part of the ITB 2024 Convention.

The session started with greetings from the Chinese Embassy and from the Beijing Municipal Tourism and Culture Bureau. Interestingly, both speakers concentrated more on the inbound tourism to China than on the outbound tourism, which in previous years has always been the clear focus of discussion and the main interest of the audience. However, this is not surprising, given the fact that China has started several activities to bring back more foreigners to China, including waving visas for a couple of mostly European source markets and the introduction of the “Ni Hao China” (not the most creative wording and a no-go for Search Engine Optimisation) program which includes a number of benefits for visitors.

 Lorena Vilar, senior manager at UN Tourism (formerly: UNWTO) got only a few minutes to present the results of the joint research project by UN Tourism and WTCF: Quantifying Tourism in City Destinations: Towards a Better Understanding of Urban Tourism. In a nutshell, the research confirmed that there are no reliable or comparable data existing for any useful quantification of the impacts of tourism in cities as the way data are collected differs widely across different cities and more importantly because for day visitors very few data are available in the first place.

 The panel discussion itself which followed was, like last year, chaired by Richard Matuzevich, Senior Manager and “foreign minister” of WTCF. The panel was made up of Ralf Ostendorf, “Mr. China” of VisitBerlin, Philip Dickinson, head of both the International Markets department and the MICE department for Qatar Tourism, Alan Song, one of the key managers of CYTS International Travel Co. Ltd. (the company that also sponsored the China Night) and your humble visitor, representing of course COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

 All panelists agreed that the future is uncertain but bright and that China will be the No. 1 outbound tourism source market again within a short period of time. However, also the panel discussion did include questions about the inbound tourism sector and what could be done to stop the massive fall of arrival numbers in China.

 Before the pandemic, China panels used to play to packed houses, this year the fact that the timing at 5 pm on the first day which sees all the big parties of ITB has certainly not helped, but still it is obvious that China is not the “hot” topic at the moment it used to be in the past. No other item during the ITB Berlin Convention focused exclusively on China.

 COTRI used the ITB Berlin 2024 also to announce the restart of the CTT China Tourism Training program, which is offered online trainings in 26 different languages thanks to the use of AI technology.

 As always, all best wishes to our readers from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the entire COTRI INTELLIGENCE team!