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The merging of the China National Tourism Administration and the Ministry of Culture speaks volumes about Beijing’s view towards the role of outbound travel

Last week, the world of Chinese outbound tourism changed. Not only was Xi Jinping reappointed as president of China by all 2,970 members of the National People’s Congress (NPC), with no more limit on the number of terms he can serve, a major change also took place for tourism. On the 13th of March State Councillor Wang Yong announced that within the institutional restructuring plan of the State Council the Ministry of Culture and CNTA China National Tourism Administration are to be merged into a new Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The move, according to the official announcement, “… is aimed at coordinating the development of cultural and tourism industries, enhancing the country’s soft power and cultural influence, and promoting cultural exchanges internationally”.

There had been rumours for many years that the CNTA would either be upgraded to full ministry status or that it would be swallowed up by the Ministry of Culture. It seems that, assuming that the State Council plan will not encounter any opposition in the NPC, the Ministry of Culture now has won this battle.

For outbound tourism it is very interesting that “enhancing [China’s] soft power and cultural influence and promoting cultures exchanges internationally” are the main arguments, pointing clearly towards outbound tourism as opposite to domestic or inbound tourism. It also spells out in remarkably clear words what China’s outbound tourism is all about from the government’s point of view: Soft power and increased influence. Good news therefore about this confirmation of the ongoing support of the Chinese government for outbound tourism despite the hundreds of billions of USD deficit when considering the spending by Chinese travellers abroad compared to the spending of international visitors to China and the anti-hedonism campaign still going on in many other fields.

The history of the CNTA dates back to 1964, when it was established within CITS China International Travel Service. At this stage, government function and enterprise management was combined; CNTA and CITS had different names but shared the same staff. In 1982, as part of the policy of separation of enterprise from administration, CITS became specialised in all travel-related service, while CNTA concentrated on national tourism management. Still, CNTA still has been until now commercially active, for instance as the organiser of CITM China International Travel Market, the main Chinese tourism fair.

What will happen to Dr. Li Jinzao – the CNTA chairman who has worked tirelessly to put Chinese tourism as a topic onto the national and international agenda – remains to be seen. He might fully concentrate in the future on his role within the recently-established WTA World Tourism Alliance, of which he is the official “founder” according to the WTA website.

Certainly, with Xi Jinping moving closer to being the new “emperor” of China, and tourism finally given ministerial status, the fundamentals of China’s outbound tourism have changed more than ever since the introduction of the ADS Approved Destination Status system in 1995 and the 1997 proclamation of the “Provisional measures concerning the administration of outbound travel of Chinese citizens at their own expense”, which for the first time officially recognised the existence of the wish of Chinese citizens to travel internationally for leisure purposes.


As COTRI has been saying for years: China’s outbound tourism – You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt



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2018 CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Awards in official partnership with Ctrip

15th annual prize ceremony sees a strong performance from European applicants

Hamburg, 17.05.2018. Held for the first time in partnership with leading Chinese online travel agency Ctrip, the 2018 CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Awards were presented at a ceremony at ITB China in Shanghai on May 17th, 2018.

Having been organised annually by COTRI since 2004 and recognised as the leading awards programme in its field, the CTW Awards have seen more than 100 tourism service providers, Destination Management Organisations, National Tourism Organisations, retailers, marketing and communication companies, among many others, recognised for their services to the Chinese outbound tourism market.

Taking place for the 15th time, the CTW Awards winners were selected by a panel of Chinese and non-Chinese industry experts, who were able to evaluate entries from almost 30 countries and territories worldwide in Asia, Europe, North America, the Caribbean and Africa.

With the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year seeing destinations and tourism service providers across the continent enhancing their offers for the Chinese market, Europe was well-represented among this year’s winners.
Speaking upon receiving a Gold award in the Marketing category, Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said: “A key element of our strategy to grow visitor numbers from China to Ireland has been the introduction of our new ‘China Ready’ programme. This programme aims to educate Irish tourism businesses about the opportunities available from China and to teach them about the specific requirements and needs of Chinese visitors.”

Noting the importance the Irish market has placed upon training, Gibbons furthered that: “CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Quality Host certificates have already been awarded to several hotels, including City North Hotel (near Dublin) and Hastings Hotels (in Northern Ireland), as well as to popular visitor attractions such as Cobh Heritage Centre (in Co Cork), Glen Keen Farm (on the Wild Atlantic Way) and Newbridge Silverware (in Co Kildare). And, I am delighted to say that over 150 enterprises are expected to graduate in 2018, making the Irish welcome stronger than ever and more tailored to the needs of the Chinese traveller.”

These comments were echoed by Richard Matuzevich, Senior Manager in the Liaison Department at WTCF, who commented that: “WTCF is very honoured and proud to receive a CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award. This has been achieved through great team work and cooperation with our members/tourism organisations all over the world.”

Representing fellow Gold winners Merlin Entertainment, International Trade Account Manager Emily Ziolkowski expressed that the company was “thrilled” to win a prize, furthering: “Over the past few years a huge amount of effort has been put in to grow the outbound Chinese market to a number of our attractions. We are constantly looking at where we can develop and grow and how we can welcome more Chinese visitors into our attractions.”

For a full list of winners, please see the CTW Awards section of the COTRI website.

COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute,

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