European destinations have strengthened their position in this market in recent years, attaining for the first time more than 10 million Chinese visitor arrivals in 2015, accounting for a share of about 13% of all outbound travel from China, according to ETC European Tourism Commission, an association of 32 National Tourism Organisations. In 2016 available figures pointed to a similar result, with many major destinations losing some customers, but many smaller destinations seeing arrivals increase substantially. Eduardo Santander, Executive Director at ETC, acknowledges the need for European destinations to strive to remain competitive in China - “It is only through deeper cooperation with the Chinese authorities and the support and commitment of the European tourism sector to engage in joint public-private marketing initiatives, that Europe will succeed in fostering sustainable tourism growth from China”.
Next year will be the 2018 EU–China Tourism Year (ECTY). In 2018 an unprecedented level of attention will be shown by Europe to the growing importance of China as an origin market, and the changing preferences and behaviour patterns of Chinese visitors. The decision to organise the ECTY was taken last summer during a meeting between the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang. The ECTY is supposed to increase, in the words of Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner responsible for tourism, “visitors' flows and investments on both sides".
The first awareness raising event for the ECTY took place in London’s Barbican on 3rd November, 2016, to launch the World Bridge Tourism (WBT) - a Preparatory Action voted by the European Parliament at the initiative of MEP István Ujhelyi, jointly organised by the ETC and the European Tourism Association (ETOA).
COTRI’s Webinar in run up to WBT
The first practical activity of the WBT was an English-language webinar organised by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute on Thursday February 23rd, 2017 from 14:00 to 15:30 h GMT (9:00 to 10.30 a.m. EST). A free recording of the webinar can be found at the following link.
The webinar representedthe first time that results from an EU-funded survey by KAIROS were publicly released, covering current and future developments in tourism flows from China to the EU. 26,000 reviews about European attractions and activities were downloaded and analysed for information about the positive and negative opinions expressed by Chinese travellers in relation to European destinations and travel products. Further parts will discuss the characteristics of the demand structure of different segments of the Chinese international tourism source market, introduce the specific structure of the Chinese tourism industry and give hints for successful interaction with Chinese business partners.
Serving also as preparation for the World Bridge Tourism Shanghai event that was held in conjunction with the ITB China on the 9th and 10th May, 2017, the webinar provided information about the ITB China, and the possibilities for European SME tourism service providers to apply for participation in the delegation of 150 European SME’s travelling to the event in Shanghai to meet 100 Chinese tour operators during workshops and conferences.
Europe Official Partner Destination for ITB China
As announced on February 1st, 2017, Europe will also be the official Partner Destination for ITB China 2017, the inaugural edition of new B2B travel trade fair that was held between the 10th to 12th May 2017 in Shanghai. The trade fair is an offshoot of the long-standing ITB Berlin - and more recent ITB Asia - events, widely recognised as the most important trade show for the global travel industry that regularly sees the attendance of as many as 10,000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries. A dedicated Europe Pavilion at ITB China as well as individual stands from European countries will be showcasing the multitude of European tourism products and destinations.
The World Bridge Tourism and the EU-China Tourism Year 2018 are supported by the European Union with a view of strengthening European-Chinese relations through tourism, and can be seen as very timely in the light of current events in the world, even though they were decided upon long before Jan. 20th.
- Task:Europe Moving Closer to China in Tourism
- Project time:Ongoing
- Result:Awareness and preparedness for how to cater to Chinese tourists