CHINA SUMMIT moves the discussion to a new level

How to integrate Chinese travellers into sustainable tourism development?

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS


Dear readers,

The GITF Guangzhou International Travel Fair CHINA SUMMIT last week, supported by COTRI, successfully moved the discussion about the future of travel and tourism and the role of Chinese travellers within global tourism to a new level.

We reported on the panel discussion of the makers of the ADVANTAGE: TOURISM CoViD-19 recovery and resilience programme last week. Let us look at some other major output, which supported the move not only to a post-CoViD-19 discussion but also to a post-Overtourism discussion, as we all have learned that the “overtourism” debate of 2018/2019 scratched only the surface of the challenges which arose from the creation of the juggernaut of modern mass tourism.

The discussion in fact needs to go deeper and needs to include the question how the “new” tourists, mainly the Chinese, can be given their right to participate in global tourism while being part of the solutions to the global problems of inequality and climate change and not becoming a growing part of the problem.

Unfortunately, much of the Summit took place outside of normal office hours of Europeans and actually in the middle of the night for those based in the Americas. No worries, all 35 keynotes, presentations and panel discussions can be seen at your convenience in full on Youtube using the link

All speakers agreed that China’s outbound tourism will come back strongly in coming years, but not all agreed about the speed: Will we see a deluge of Revenge travel, as most surveys suggest, or will a sizeable part of the market stay home for longer because of mistrust and/or patriotism.

All speakers also agreed that there is a need for the European and other host destinations to offer better-adapted products and services and more diversity in regions and activities based on a deeper understanding of the market. How severe the level of lack of preparedness and of the level of lack of respect shown is especially in Europe, and how much catch-up needs to be done, however, was assessed differently.

Emerging as main discussion points for the future, which were also the subject of the wrap-up session your humble editor together with Patrick Richards, Non-executive director of ETOA, had the pleasure to participate in, were the following:

– How to bring the interests and behaviour of Asian travellers into the discussion about future global tourism development post-virus (let’s travel less vs. We have just started to travel) and

– Have the demands and expectations of Chinese tourists changed during 2020 or not (and if so, how) (We have to educate the tourists, otherwise they fall back into their old consumption patterns vs. Chinese travellers have developed an interest in nature, family, local culture, contact with locals, are less superficial, less concentrated on shopping and sightseeing than before).

Taleb Rifai, former SG of UNTWO set the tone in his opening keynotes with four things we can learn from the pandemic: the importance of domestic tourism and of security, but also the importance of digitalisation and of training to increase the knowledge in the tourism industry. These points were echoed by many other speakers and are also key elements of the COTRI ADVANTAGE: TOURISM Recovery and Resilience strategy.

Prof. Kaye Chon, Dean of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management, gave the example of the Camino de Santiago, which is frequented by many South Koreans, but by less than 1,000 Chinese travellers per year. A good example, let me add, of the result of ignorance of the source market: Few Spanish tour operators will be aware of the fact that China is the third biggest Christian country in the world according to the numbers of believers and even fewer will be aware that many of them are middle-class urbanites eager to go on a spiritual trip to discover their roots and to exchange ideas with others walked on the Camino.

Xu Jing, former leader of UNWTO for Asia and the Pacific, supported this point by saying that there is a high level of complementary, meaning that Chinese visitors can be made interested in other activities at other times of the year and other parts of the destination than traditional Western tourists.

The third instalment of our weekly series of short videos which provide examples from the CTT China Tourism Training gives a useful hint about the importance of mobile payment. Have a look!

Best wishes as always from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team!

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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