China-centric marketing solutions company Dragon Trail International (DTI), says destinations can confidently commit to Chinese tourism marketing plans now and reconnect with the Chinese travel trade, both offline and online.
DTI director of marketing and communications, Sienna Parulis-Cook, told TTG Asia a summer 2023 survey of Chinese travel agents selling outbound trips showed 61 per cent were especially keen to meet at in-person events.
Major opportunities coming up include ITB in Shanghai in September, COTTM in Beijing in November and roadshows tourism boards host in China.
She added: “Some 56 per cent of China travel agents said online training courses and live webinars would help them to work with overseas suppliers, and digital initiatives – particularly WeChat – are a great way to engage with the Chinese travel trade.
Working with the Chinese travel trade, who speak directly to consumers and considered a trusted voice, can help to address any safety concerns that Chinese travellers might have about a destination.
They can also assure Chinese travellers and give them the information they need to confidently book outbound travel once again, she opined.
A tip by Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) and Meaningful Tourism Center, is to provide quality products, produce special interest products for specific market segments and to use word-of-mouth marketing instead of supply-side produced social media content.
He pointed out: “There are more Christians in China than in Germany or Italy, more FC Barcelona fans than in Spain and more foodies than in France.
“Use the meaningful tourism approach to make sure that all stakeholders, including host communities and employees, get and see the benefits of hosting Chinese visitors.”
According to Gary Bowerman, director, Check-in Asia, a travel and tourism research firm with bases in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, the industry had to consider two factors in terms of China’s outbound recovery: total outbound visitor numbers and tourism spending.
Bowerman noted: “It will take time for Chinese arrivals to reach pre-pandemic levels in most markets. In 2019 for example, China contributed 22.5 per cent of all visitors to South-east Asia.
“China will be the number one visitor market for many Asia-Pacific nations in 2023, but annual arrivals will be lower than anticipated.”
He added that Chinese spending will “increase on aggregate because inflation is making the cost of travel higher” thus “the relationship between total visitors and tourism spend is different than before”.