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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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Travel Trade Market, organised by EAGLE, company of Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) and VNU Exhibitions Asia, will take place in Chengdu, CHINA, 5-7 September 2018,

Hamburg/Rimini, 12.06.2018EUROPE ASIA GLOBAL LINK EXHIBITIONS (EAGLE) – a company of Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) and VNU Exhibitions Asia – and China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), world’s leading independent research institute for consulting, research, information, training, and quality assessment relating to the Chinese outbound tourism market, entered into a cooperation agreement related to EAGLE’s newest travel show, Travel Trade Market (TTM), scheduled to take place in Chengdu from 5th to 7th September 2018.

The cooperation will consist of a series of events organised by COTRI during the TTM show with the purpose to promote several European destinations to the second tier cities in China in the light of the EU – China tourism year (ECTY) initiative as well as a set of mutual promotional activities and cooperation on show’s Chinese buyer program.

We are excited to cooperate with COTRI in our path to build a professional international marketplace in the heart of some of the fastest growing tourism markets in China. COTRI’s vast industry knowledge and unique expertise in the China outbound travel market incorporated inside our platform can certainly add valuable content to the show and offers a great promotional tool available to destinations that are trying to enter into these new China markets.” – said Mr. Emanuele Guido, Chairman of EAGLE and International and National Business Development of IEG.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS, Founder and Director of COTRI said: “With both EAGLE’s China-based shareholder and COTRI having worked in China for well over a decade each, the cooperation of two such experienced industry players represented the next logical step to take. We have chosen the Travel Trade Market event in Chengdu as an optimal opportunity for our first collaboration, given that Sichuan capital is the most dynamic city in China today.

Travel Trade Market (TTM) – a show organised by EAGLE and supported by the Chengdu Tourism Bureau is a B2B show that covers both INBOUND and OUTBOUND tourism sectors in China. It is a gateway to enter the fastest growing tourism markets in the second tier cities of China, with enormous potential and yet not crowded by the competition as the first tier cities. The show gives international exhibitors the opportunity to meet some of the most qualified tourism buyers of the Central and Western parts of China and at the same time puts together the Chinese destinations and inbound tourism operators with buyers from all over the world, fully hosted by the show.

Chengdu Travel Trade Market together with TTG TRAVEL EXPERIENCE (the most important tourism marketplace in Italy) and Shanghai World Travel Fair (the largest travel show in the Eastern part of China) are part of a network created to facilitate the communication within the world tourism industry, as an added value to its customers and partners worldwide.


For more information about the shows visit:

Travel Trade Market: September 5-7, 2018, Chengdu, China

TTG Travel Experience: October 10-12, 2018, Rimini, Italy

Shanghai World Travel Fair: May 2019, Shanghai, China



EAGLE – EUROPE ASIA GLOBAL LINK EXHIBITIONS was established in 2017 in Shanghai, China as a joint venture between two important European trade fair organisers, Italian Exhibition Group and VNU Exhibitions Asia. The partnership was born as a joint strategy to serve the internationalisation mission of both enterprises with the purpose to create strong exhibitions and promotional links between Europe and the Chinese and Far East markets. The joint venture’s business plans aim to support the expansion process of companies of different sectors, with already launched projects in the tourism, hospitality and wellness sectors.



COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute is the world’s leading independent research institute for consulting, research, information, training, and quality assessment relating to the Chinese outbound tourism market. COTRI is a privately organised, independent institute registered in Germany. In addition to the head office in Hamburg, Germany, COTRI has a Chinese office based in Beijing and COTRI Country Partners located in countries around the world, providing local services in more than 50 countries. COTRI was established in 2004 by its director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, a sinologist and professor for International Tourism Management with more than 35 years of practical and academic experience in Chinese tourism.



Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A. (IEG) is Italy’s first trade fair and convention organiser for profitability and for events organised directly and owned by the organisers, with the Rimini and Vicenza expo centres, Rimini’s Palacongressi and Vicenza Convention Centre. The group, which is presided over by Lorenzo Cagnoni, with Matteo Marzotto as vice president and Ugo Ravanelli as managing director, closed 2017 with a consolidated turnover of 130.7 million Euros, a EBITDA of 23.2 million and a consolidated net profit of 9.1 million. IEG has 59 expos in its portfolio, (including the Food & Beverage, Green, Technology, Entertainment, Tourism, Transport, Wellness, Jewellery and Fashion, Lifestyle & Innovation sectors), and a total of 280 events and congresses. In 2017, IEG attracted a total of 15,649 exhibitors and 2,648,675 visitors, at its Rimini and Vicenza-based exhibition and congress facilities. IEG operates worldwide, with branches in the United Arab Emirates, United States, China, India and South America.


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Christopher Ledsham, Chief Communications Officer

Tel. +49 481 8555 523



Silvia Giorgi, international press manager

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The most reliable dataset for 80 key China outbound tourism destinations