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PATA and IT&CM confirm China irresistible tourism rise

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Apr 20, 2011

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (eTN) - It was a calendar coincidence but it proved at least one thing: China is turning into THE essential market for tourism in Asia. It all started last week with PATA's 60th anniversary conference in Beijing and continued then with IT&CM China conference and exhibition in Shanghai. In both cases, presentations showed that China tourism will continue to rise.

In Beijing, PATA Intelligence Unit revealed that travels into China is forecast to grow to 142.08 million in 2011, to 146.90 million in 2012, and finally reach 151.57 million in 2013, a total growth of 6.68% during this three-year period. These arrivals into Mainland China include Hong Kong, Macao, and Chinese Taipei. These three territories would represent 112.60 million trips this year, a market share of over 79%. The rest of the world would then account for almost 29.5 million of arrivals. South Korea and Japan would each generate over 4 million trips, the USA, and Russia over 2 million, while European major countries would also make all together some 2 million arrivals.

PATA Office of Strategy Management has been keen to look at international movements into provinces. Northeast China (where Beijing is located) is likely to enjoy the highest growth rate, up by 8.3% for the period 2011-2013 followed by South China (Guangdong, Hainan) and Southwest China (Yunnan and Sichuan) with 7.6%. North China and Northwest China would grow below the average.

Looking at provinces visited by foreign travelers, Germany, France, and the UK showed rather similar patterns, with top destinations being Shanghai and its surroundings, and Beijing, as well as Guangdong. Yunnan Province did well also among French and German tourists due to its proximity to the Mekong area and its multi-ethnic diversity. Travelers from the USA would add Guangxi and Fujian provinces while Canadian and Australian mostly visit Guangdong, Jiangsu/Shanghai, as well as Beijing. Not surprisingly, while Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand tend to favor Southern China, a large part of the Chinese diaspora living in those countries originate from there. The most experienced travelers to Mainland China remain Japanese and Koreans. They concentrate mostly in the North and Northeast of China but also in Hunan, Guagdong, and Yunnan. PATA predicts an important growth of Japanese travelers to Henan and Shaanxi until 2013. PATA estimates then that there is a huge potential for provinces to capture more international markets.

In Shanghai, one topic was the growth of MICE travels in China with business travel spending expected to more than quadruple by 2020. According to a study released by the Association of Corporate Travel Executive and AirPlus International, business travel in China is the third largest market in the world representing last year some US$62 billion. It could be the second largest in the world by 2020 with spending forecast to reach US$277 billion by then.

ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), which has 900 members in 86 countries, predicted during IT&CM conferences that secondary cities will be increasingly important in China. So far, the largest cities for international conventions in 2009 were Beijing (96 events), Shanghai (58), Xian (11), and Guangzhou (9). But ICAA sees potential for more international events such as conventions taking places in cities such as Xiamen, Dalian, and Tianjin - all destinations offering not only a good business environment but also numerous tourist attractions. MICE is already growing strongly, posting a 40% growth in 2009-2010, according to a study by A.C. Nielsen.

According to Pacific World Asia Regional Managing Director China & Hong KongC indy Zhang, Beijing and Shanghai remain the most attractive cities for MICE as they have now the indispensable hardware following the hosting of the Olympics and the World Expo. “We, however, still need [improvement in] the software aspect of our industry. Which means further improving the standards of service and providing more venues for large groups," she added.

PATA and IT&CM confirm China irresistible tourism rise
More than just a honeymoon between China and the travel industry / Photo by Luc Citrinot

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