China is poised for an influx of tourists next year with tourism business looking to increase their holiday offerings and tourists looking to snap them up, reveals research by World Travel Market London released today (Monday 7 November) at the event.
More than half of firms selling holidays to China expect to do more business in the country next year, the report reveals. The survey quizzed 2,044 firms and found that more than 1,500 conduct business in China – and 55% of these expect to do more business in China during 2017.
A third (35%) thought business would stay the same, and just 9% thought it might decrease.
Furthermore, a WTM London consumer survey, which questioned 1,145 UK holidaymakers, found that a fifth (21%) would be interested in visiting China in the future.
More than 570,000 British nationals visit mainland China every year and almost 270,000 Chinese visitors came to the UK in 2015. But now these numbers look set to soar, thanks to the pent-up demand from operators and holidaymakers – and a new deal between the Chinese and British governments which aims to boost tourism and trade.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said limits on flights between the UK and China will be lifted to allow thousands more trips between them every year. Signed in October, the deal means passenger flights can increase from the current maximum of 40 per week for each nation to up to 100. A restriction on the number of destinations that airlines can serve has also been lifted, meaning services can be operated between any point in the UK and any point in China.
Air links between the countries have already been boosted this year with new services being launched to major Chinese cities from Manchester and Gatwick.
Also, from October 1, foreign tourists arriving in Shanghai on a cruise have been allowed up to 15 days of visa-free stays. Passengers may remain in Shanghai or travel to Beijing, the Chinese capital, and the northeastern port city of Tianjin, as well as coastal provinces where ships often berth.
Meanwhile, UK operators are offering more packages to China, giving Brits the confidence to see key highlights and enjoy the expanding numbers of resorts. All-inclusive resort specialist Club Med, which was bought by Chinese conglomerate Fosun last year, already has five resorts in China and is targeting 20 by 2020. Club Med has also teamed with tour operator Wendy Wu Tours to offer ‘tour and stay’ family packages in China.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said there is plenty of untapped potential in the inbound market for China. It said: “Tourism into China, while still above the global average, has not been growing at the same pace [as outbound]. “The WTTC research shows that there is an enormous opportunity for China to take greater benefit from the positive contributions made by travel and tourism.
“The sector can help fulfil the government’s objective of shifting from reliance on manufacturing towards a more service-focused economy.”
David Scowsill, President and Chief Executive at WTTC, said: “China’s unparalleled investments in infrastructure over recent years have created a good foundation for the further expansion of tourism by increasing connectivity and the country’s tourism capacity.
“Interest in inbound tourism into China will thrive if there is resolve on continuing visa facilitation into the country and focusing on strong destination promotion.”
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “China is a tremendous destination for tourism, with iconic sights such as the Great Wall, Terracotta Army and pandas at Chengdu – as well as emerging attractions along the Silk Road.
“A host of tour operators, airlines and travel suppliers featuring China will be exhibiting at WTM London, along with Chinese national and regional tourism boards, so news about our survey findings and the new Sino-British air deal will further boost their prospects at the event.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.