top of page

旅行社资讯网
China Travel Trade Media

Content provided by China Travel Trade Media. Insights into China's outbound tourism industry. Curated and translated by Create Consulting. 

  • LinkedIn

January 9, 2024

China Industry News: Projected 264 Million In- & Outbound China Trips for 2024, China-Thailand Mutual Visa Waiver, and 118,000 New Visa-Free Entries to China in December '23

China Tourism Academy Projects 264 Million Trips, $107 Billion Value

The China Tourism Academy (CTA) recently released their 2024 forecast report which, based on positive policy shifts as well as demand- and supply-side momentum, puts forth a positive outlook for the tourism economy in 2024. CTA estimates that domestic tourist trips and domestic tourism revenue will exceed 6 billion person-times and 6 trillion yuan respectively, while inbound and outbound tourism figures and international tourism revenue will respectively surpass 264 million person-times and 107 billion US dollars.

China and Thailand to Permanently Mutually Exempt Citizens' Visas from March

Thai Prime Minister Seta Thaweesin announced on January 2nd that China and Thailand will permanently exempt each other's citizens from visas, starting in March.

 

Thailand welcomed as many as 12 million Chinese visitors before the pandemic

 

Over 110,000 People from Six Countries Granted Visa-Free Entry to China

Since December 1st, China has implemented a unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from six countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. As of December 31st, 2023, according to statistics from the National Immigration Administration, the total number of visitors from these six countries to China was 214,000, showing an increase of 28.5% compared to November. Among these visitors, 118,000 entered China visa-free with ordinary passports, accounting for 55.1% of the total number of entries from the six countries during the same period. Among the visa-free visitors, 91,000 came to China for sightseeing and leisure, as well as for engaging in business activities, accounting for 77.3%.

Chinese Civil Aviation Target for 2024: Restoring International Flights to 80% of Pre-Pandemic Levels

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, in 2023, international passenger flights recovered from less than 500 flights per week at the beginning of the year to over 4,600 flights, an increase of 9.6 times, with the number of resumed countries reaching 89.2% of pre-pandemic levels. Passenger traffic between China and Europe has recovered to over 60% of pre-pandemic levels, and regular direct flights between China and the United States have increased to 63 flights per week. The recovery level between China and countries participating in the 'Belt and Road Initiative' is 6.2 percentage points higher than the overall recovery level of international routes.

In 2024, domestic passenger transport in China is projected to continue to grow steadily, with an estimated annual passenger transport volume on domestic routes reaching 630 million person-times, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. On international routes, the aim is to restore flights to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Younger Chinese travelers are driving considerable innovation in the post-pandemic travel market

Industry Insights

"Where they go is not important; who they travel with is the key": Decoding Chinese Gen Z Travel Trends & Spend

China's younger traveler segments, especially Gen Z, are beginning to make their mark in the travel market, with new and unique preferences and spending patterns. According to the "2023 Youth Revenge Travel Report" produced by 36Kr's Next Generation Research Institute, Gen Z's travel consumption budgets have reached as high as 14,774.3 yuan (US$2,080). Among Gen Z travelers surveyed, 16.6% were even reported having zero savings - or being in debt.

 

Qingtianxing, a travel agent specialising in travel experiences targeted at 164 universities and 1.2 million college students in Beijing. Founder Hong Zhenqi shares: "the key is securing good experiences. It's not about quantity but quality. With sufficiently low costs, there's no shortage of channels. Identifying good projects is crucial. For college students, they have only one demand: wherever is popular (on social media), they go. There must be a crowd. If it's going to make a splash on their social media, they're content."

This highly social-media-centric segment of the travel market has seen travel influencer incubators rise in importance, which travel agent Tuboshu has invested into heavily. According to CEO Tao Rui, "Currently, we focus on the cultural and tourism industry, developing influencers. We have incubated travel bloggers on platforms like Douyin and Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book). Normally, it takes just a month for us to establish a Level 6 or Level 7 (10,000-100,000 followers) influencer for selling. Our clients are mostly 20-35 years old. The time when clients place orders correlates with our live streaming time, and peak ordering times occur during commute hours from Monday to Friday mornings. We call it "commuting traffic". We also see peak periods on Saturday and Sunday afternoons." Tao Rui is now steering Tuboshu into cultural and creative products. "When a place becomes popular, its cultural and creative products are high-margin, and unlike tickets and travel products, cultural and creative products don't expire or face supply shortages. Recently, we sold out a 68-yuan (≈US$10) fridge magnet of Shichahai Lake in Beijing, with daily sales exceeding 3,500."

The pandemic was truly transformative for younger Chinese travelers and their preferences. Zhai Qi, director for the Northern China region at leading Chinese travel agency Mafengwo, describes their evolution over the last several years: "Before the pandemic, Mafengwo's outbound business accounted for a higher proportion than domestic business. However, during the pandemic, user travel was restricted, and our new challenge became creating the most sticky content and gamification to connect to users. During the pandemic, we innovated a lot, with new initiative creating new marketing hooks for local destinations." These initiatives include cliffside coffee at Guizhou's Libo and mineral water drifting at Changbai Mountain, where social gamification began to play an increasingly important role. "40% of these experiences integrated travel and culture with social gamification, which shows us that young people today may pay more attention to the social side of destinations. Therefore, attracting user attention through new methods and strengthening user interaction through content communities are key strategies for the post-pandemic platform," said Zhai Qi.

The pandemic era's effective ban on outbound travel favoured domestic destinations, such as Changbai Mountain

This increasing need for social and psychological engagement has given Enjoy Dream Travel, who serve 280,000 young Chinese travelers annually, a chance to innovate. "We don't follow traditional travel routes; instead, we upgrade traditional travel routes into a packaged experience. Currently, there's an issue in the market with the customer base for traditional routes. The same destination products are available on various platforms, so to enhance customer loyalty, increase repurchase rates, and generate more referrals, we have upgraded the traditional travel projects by embedding emotional value and social attributes throughout the entire journey because for young people, where they go is not important; who they travel with is the key," says Beijing manager Dou Dou. "For us, the key to sales conversion is capturing the psychological aspect, evoking empathy, and there needs to be a high degree of resonance between the customer and us. So in Enjoy Dream Travel tours, the age gap among customers is very small, creating more emotional resonance. This experience is different from other travel groups," she said.

"Places for brands and customers to engage": Ctrip's New Brick-and-Mortar Store Boom

 

2023 saw strong tourism industry recovery in China, and brick-and-mortar agencies once more welcomed bustling crowds. From January 1st to November 12th 2023, when Ctrip opened its first storefront in Jilin Province, Ctrip hit the 2,100 signed storefronts mark, breaking a Ctrip record for the number of newly signed stores in a year. Ctrip's storefronts have now hit a total of 6,500, reaching cities like Changchun and Zhangye, which it had not reached before the pandemic. Ctrip's brick-and-mortar store boom reached its peak on April 18, with 200 stores opening simultaneously in a day across China, marking a milestone for the rapid recovery of the industry.

 

 

 

 

Ctrip's Changchun store opening in Jilin Province

Data from Ctrip shows that in 2023, average per capita spending on domestic travel products in stores was 1,426 yuan, an increase of nearly 40% compared to 2019; per capita spending on overseas products was 5,269 yuan, a 16% increase from 2019. It's worth mentioning that unlike in previous years where stores mostly sold traditional group tour products, this year, high-quality and flexible private tours and custom-made tours have been more favoured by consumers. Ctrip's data shows that the proportion of custom-made tour product orders through stores increased by 92% compared to the same period last year. Foshan Ctrip Platinum store manager Yuejiao Zhao reports an increase in young customers, and more than 40% of the business in her store came from the sale of custom-made tours. Zhao was able to quickly recapture market share as the travel industry rebounded, taking special care to understand customer needs, interact face-to-face, and to customise travel experiences according to this understanding. With this approach, she was able to make up for the losses of the past three years with the profits of just six months.

Another newly-opened Ctrip storefront in Zhuzhou, Hunan

Statistics show that in 2023, the provinces with the most newly opened Ctrip stores were Anhui, Guangdong, Sichuan, Henan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, and Hebei. The best-selling domestic travel stores were distributed in Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Xi'an, Hefei, Foshan, and Wuhan. A trend has emerged of travel agency storefronts continuously expanding into lower-tier-city markets, as residents of numerous third, fourth, and fifth-tier cities and county-level cities have shown their ability and willingness to travel. In 2023, Ctrip even opened 473 new travel stores in county-level towns, achieving a 23% penetration rate among small-town market segments. Zhang Li, CEO of Ctrip's Travel Channel Business Unit, is optimistic about the "new era" in brick-and-mortar travel agencies; "Storefronts are undoubtedly the best location to carry out innovation in consumer experiences and new products," he said. "Ctrip's storefronts are not just places where customers place travel orders; I hope they will also become places for brands and customers to engage in daily communication, discussion, and interaction."

Screenshot 2024-01-08 at 18.26.15.png
Screenshot 2024-01-09 at 14.28.46.png

January 2, 2024

Industry News: Last-Minute Trips Boom Among Gen Z, and China Gets a New Tourism Minister

Sun Yeli Appointed Minister of Culture and Tourism
According to Xinhua News Agency, the seventh session of the 14th National People's Congress Standing Committee concluded at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the afternoon of December 29. The meeting, through a vote, decided to remove Hu Heping from the position of Minister of Culture and Tourism and appoint Sun Yeli as the Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Beijing Gets Strict On Low-Cost Outbound Packages
The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism recently issued new regulations for the outbound tourism market, specifically prohibiting travel agencies from operating or shelving "unreasonable low-price tours" of outbound products. It is also prohibited agencies from engaging in false advertising when promoting and selling tourism products online or offline. The new regulations also include a number of requirements on business practice standardization, marking a move toward greater quality control and pressure on low-cost packages.














New Year's Day Holiday Flights Expected to Reach 49,000
According to CCTV News, the Civil Aviation Administration expects national flight volumes over New Year’s Day to reach 49,000 flights, an increase of about 85.5% compared to the same period in 2023, averaging about 16,300 flights per day. January 1 is expected to end up logging the highest volume, reaching an estimated 16,600 flights.


Industry Movements

Ctrip: Booking Lead Time for Group Tours in 2023 Shortened by 26% Compared to 2022
According to Ctrip data, the frequency of their users' air travel in 2023 increased by 13.9% compared to the previous year. Comparing it to 2019, the frequency of travelers in their early 20s taking trips increased the fastest, growing by 8.6%. This cohort of travelers also does not appear to plan their trips far in advance. Ctrip data shows that they enjoy spontaneous travel, with the average lead time for purchasing air tickets decreasing by 25% compared to 2019. The volume of hotel bookings “made today for stays tomorrow” increased by 71% compared to 2019. The lead time for booking group tours shortened by 26% compared to 2022.















Meituan Platform's New Year's Day Travel Pre-order Volume Grows 500%+
According to data from bookings platforms Meituan and Dianping, current pre-orders for New Year's Day holiday travel have increased by over 500% year-on-year. "Having a sense of ceremony and atmosphere for the New Year" has become a trending consumer theme. In the past week, the number of catering stores offering "New Year" themed group-buying packages and the volume of related package orders on the Meituan platform have seen a significant increase.

China International Flight Connectivity Booms
The last week has seen a boost in flight connectivity between Russia and China. Hainan Province established its inaugural direct air route, "Sanya⇌Moscow," connecting Sanya Phoenix International Airport and Moscow. The route, facilitated by a Russian national airline using the A330-300 aircraft, now operates twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Additionally, Harbin Airport in China welcomed the launch of the Krasnoyarsk-Harbin route operated by Russia's Rossiya Airlines. This new regular passenger route, commenced since the relaxation of epidemic policies, operates twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Chongqing is also set to restart regular passenger flights to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, marking its first international passenger route of 2024 and the ninth connecting to RCEP countries. Operating twice weekly on Mondays and Saturdays, this route is serviced by Cambodia Airlines. Hainan Airlines, too, has resumed direct flights between Sapporo, Japan, and Hangzhou, China, with two round-trip flights weekly. The Beijing-Phuket route by Hainan Airlines has officially restarted, offering seven round-trip flights per week.
Air China also plans to reinstate its Shanghai Pudong-Munich flight with thrice-weekly operations from January 17, 2024. China and Tajikistan have established a direct air route, offering flexible flight options between the nations and connections to Europe, Turkey, and the Middle East. Additionally, Vietnam Airlines will introduce a new route from Shanghai Pudong to Phu Quoc, Vietnam, starting January 19, 2024, operating three flights every two weeks, escalating to three per week during the February Spring Festival holiday, utilizing Airbus A321 aircraft.

China's First Large-scale Cruise Ship Sets Sail
On December 24, China's first large-scale cruise ship, the "Idea Shanghai," departed from the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Shanghai for its first trial operation at sea. The first trial operation concluded on December 25, followed by a second trial operation. Through these two trial operations, the ship aimed to provide better services for its commercial maiden voyage on January 1, 2024. The commercial maiden voyage departed from the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Shanghai and sail on an international cruise route from Shanghai to Northeast Asia.















Global Tourism Trade Engagements with China Pick Up
Thailand's Tourism Authority recently orchestrated a welcome dinner for a Chinese media inspection group at Bangkok's Siam Museum on December 26, 2023. Their focus on "soft power" and "meaningful travel" aimed to enhance Thailand's tourism image in China, instilling confidence in travelers and spurring tourism during the 2024 New Year holiday. Similarly, Dubai Tourism Authority collaborated with Tuniu Travel Network to organize the Dubai Tourism Carnival in Nanjing from December 23 to 25. This event showcased Dubai's cultural richness, cuisine, and attractions while emphasizing Dubai's visa-free policy to entice Chinese travelers.

Additionally, Singapore Tourism Board partnered with Mafengwo to introduce three unique "Wang Jia'er Lion City Route" products, specifically targeting the preferences of young customer groups. These routes offer fresh perspectives on Singapore tourism, providing an alternative experience of the city to visitors. Moreover, Madrid's allure was showcased in China's major cities—Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou—through the "Only in Madrid" global activity. This initiative, launched ahead of the winter vacation and Spring Festival tourism surge, aimed to promote Madrid's distinct charm and attractions among Chinese travelers, facilitating cultural exchange and tourism between China and Spain.

Screenshot 2024-01-02 at 17.20.09.png
Screenshot 2024-01-02 at 17.25.40.png

December 20, 2023

Headlines: 2023 Travel Industry Surge, Sri Lank Waives Visa Fee, Top Chinese Travel Agencies Awarded

 

A few Chinese travel trade headlines that caught our eye recently:

Over 26,000 new travel companies registered in 2023

Data from Qichacha shows that there are currently 118,500 outbound travel-related companies in China. In 2019, China registered 33,500 new outbound travel-related companies, reaching a near-decadal peak, with a year-on-year increase of 16.06%. Affected by the pandemic, in 2020, 2021, and 2022, China registered only 12,700, 12,000, and 6,900 new outbound travel-related companies respectively, with year-on-year declines registered of 62.12%, 5.20%, and 42.23%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinese domestic travel industry has recovered to 90% of its pre-pandemic levels

However, this trend stopped in 2023. So far, this year has seen an addition of 26,100 new outbound travel-related companies in China, with 25,600 registered from January to November, a year-on-year growth figure of of 289.69%. From a regional perspective, Guangdong contributed 12,200 registrations, ranking first. Shandong and Jiangsu registered 8,100 and 7,700 respectively, ranking in the top three, followed by Sichuan, Hunan, Beijing, and other regional designations.

Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism Actively Drafting 'Inbound Tourism Promotion Plan'

Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism Du Jiang stated during a State Council Information Office press conference that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will focus on optimizing policy environments to address bottlenecks and challenges; promoting industry integration and innovating product supply. He said, 'We are actively drafting an 'Inbound Tourism Promotion Plan,' which is also a three-year plan to provide inbound tourists with more high-quality tourism products and more convenient services.'

China has recently initiated a trial visa-free regime for several European countries and Malaysia

Top 20 Chinese Tourism Companies in 2023 Announced

According to the official account of the China Tourism Research Institute, the recent '2023 China Tourism Group Development Forum,' saw the announcement of the 'Top 20 Chinese Tourism Groups in 2023’ in the following categories:

  • SOEs, North China, Northeast: China Travel Service, Overseas Chinese Town Group, BTG Holdings, CYTS Holdings, Haichang Group.

  • East China: Jinjiang International Group, Ctrip Group, Spring Airlines Group, Fosun Tourism & Culture Group, Huazhu Group, Tongcheng Travel Group, Zhejiang Tourism Investment Group, Hangzhou Canal Group, Kaiyuan Hotels, Xiangyuan Holdings Group, Shandong Cultural Tourism Group.

  • Central China, South China, Southwest, Northwest: Hubei Cultural Tourism Group, Lingnan Group, Sichuan Provincial Tourism Investment Group, Mingyu Industrial Group.

 

5.4 Billion Domestic Trips Generate 52 Trillion Yuan Revenue in 2023

The China Tourism Research Institute (Cultural and Tourism Ministry Data Center) released the 'China Tourism Group Development Report (2023)' at the '2023 China Tourism Group Development Forum.' It is estimated that for 2023, the annual domestic tourist volume will total 5.4 billion trips, and domestic tourism revenue will reach 52 trillion yuan, both recovering to 90% of the 2019 high mark.

 

Pandemic-era contractions in the travel industry have started to reverse in 2023

Tongcheng Travel Establishes Strategic Cooperation with Malaysia

According to information provided by Tongcheng Travel, in order to further deepen the development of the Malaysian market and provide more high-quality travel services for Chinese tourists, Tongcheng Travel and Malaysia AirAsia signed a strategic cooperation agreement on December 13th. This strategic cooperation aims to leverage their respective advantages and jointly develop more diverse and high-quality tourism products, thereby promoting mutual development in the Chinese and Malaysian tourism markets.

December 28, 2023

December 20, 2023

Profit Margins Exceeding 50%? Understanding China’s Educational Travel Market

 

A key finding of the new "China Study Travel Development Report 2022-2023" shows that, although the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to study travel, it has also shaken up some innovation in the market. A booming educational tour market this year has led to the emergence of more than a few study groups with somewhat... unconventional pricing. Compared to the 5%-10% profit margin of typical group tour products, study products (simply with the addition of the word "education") can achieve a profit margin of at least 15%-25%, or even as high as 50%.

Try as they might, these outlandish prices have been unable to dampen the enthusiasm of Chinese parents. According to a joint survey by the China Youth Daily Social Survey Center and an online questionnaire platform, 79.2% of surveyed parents are inclined to enroll their children in study tours. Yet not all study products are of equal quality, and more than a few parents have become wary of misleading products that leave them with an empty wallet and a troubled child. Among parents inclined to enroll their children in study tours, 55.6% of them feel that study tours are excessively promoted with false promises, and more than a few parents have found themselves thoroughly disappointed with products. In large part, this comes down to a lack of regulation and quality control, against a backdrop of strong demand in the market for high-quality study groups.

 

How does China aim to up the quality of its educational tourism offerings? The key is supply-side competition in the market. Huang Feng, the founder of Guizhou Wuxingxia Travel, said, "During the epidemic, all aspects of tourism were reshuffled, and the reshuffling of the supply side was inevitable. However, with the recovery of the industry, professional talent in study travel is clearly returning and picking up again. It is just that the prices on both the supply and demand sides fluctuate with the market. Here, it is necessary to drive the market with relatively high-quality products, then drive the salary of study-related professionals who can perform well, and bring about effective internal circulation."

 


 

 

 

 

Education remains a sector in which Chinese families are less cost-sensitive

The massive demand in the educational market has seen less scrupulous players entering the market to service this demand. On December 3rd, a 34-person extracurricular weekend study group, led by a single, lone guide, got lost while in the depths of a mountain trail in China. Thankfully, the group was rescued due to timely reporting. Huang Feng says, "The normal number of people in a study group should be controlled – no more than 29. If it is an independent group, the guide ratio should be at least 6:1, which is an ideal safety ratio. Study groups will absolutely have higher costs than regular products, partly because of the content and curriculum software, but on the other hand, this is related to the personnel's execution ability, knowledge level, professionalism, and safety management. The net profit margin of study travel is much higher than that of other products, but the logistic complexity, service duration, and execution difficulty all increase in proportion."

December 15, 2023

“Reverse Travel” & “Therapeutic Tourism”: International Tourism Boards’ 2024 China Outlook


In 2019, with 155 million outbound trips, China was the undisputed travel market champion. The last three pandemic years brought China’s outbound travel market to a temporary (though dramatic) halt, but change is in the air. With adjustments in aviation, immigration, and consular policies, the Chinese outbound tourism industry is rapidly regaining its former top spot in 2023.


So far 2023, has more or less delivered on the long-promised “revenge travel”; Chinese visitors are undoubtedly back out in numbers at their old favourite spots. But the market is different, now. The pandemic has seen new travel modes emerge like “reverse travel” and “therapeutic tourism”. There’s also been shift in the market, with younger generations—Chinese millennials and Gen Z—emerging as the primary outbound travel force. They not only accounted for over 50% of the market, but also come with their own travel preferences and spending habits.


As the outbound travel market returns to growth, how to businesses connect with these new visitors’ mindsets in the post-pandemic era? We interviewed a number of leading overseas tourism bureaus' representatives in China to find a new way of thinking about tourism marketing and sales in post-pandemic China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Saudi Arabia Tourism Bureau
Alhasan A. Aldabbagh, Asia-Pacific Regional President

China, being the world's second most populous country, has a strong passion for outbound travel and possesses significant purchasing power. In 2019, Chinese outbound travelers reached 155 million, making it the country with the highest number of outbound trips globally. Saudi Arabia fully recognizes the importance of the Chinese market and has observed an exponential increase in the number of Chinese tourists entering the country. From January 2023 to date, Saudi Arabia has already welcomed over 115,000 Chinese tourists. By 2030, our goal is to host 5 million Chinese tourists, positioning Saudi Arabia as their preferred long-haul destination.


Qatar Tourism Bureau
Ding Xiaoqin, Greater China Regional Manager

In 2019, we received a total of 67,000 tourists from China, and by the end of November 2023, we've hosted nearly 50,000 visitors from China. In terms of aviation capacity, Qatar Airways resumed routes to Chengdu and Chongqing by the end of September, indicating that Qatar Airways' routes in China have fully recovered to the levels seen in 2019.


Additionally, in late October, Xiamen Airlines officially commenced flights from Beijing to Doha, as well as the inaugural flight from Xiamen to Doha. Xiamen Airlines became the first Chinese airline to operate routes to Qatar and has engaged in comprehensive cooperation with Qatar Airways.


China is one of the most crucial source markets for the Qatar Tourism Bureau, with abundant potential. We look forward to closer collaboration with industry partners, timely sharing of more destination information, the creation of more targeted tourism products and routes, and providing more support for incentive travel, deepening our presence in first-tier cities, actively developing potential markets in second-tier cities, making Qatar a more attractive and diversified destination. We eagerly anticipate more Chinese tourists to visit Qatar for sightseeing and experience our warm hospitality.


South Africa Tourism Board
Gcobania Mancotywa, Regional Manager for Asia/Australia, Middle East

Since China gradually lifted outbound travel restrictions at the beginning of 2023, South Africa became one of the first destinations capable of accommodating Chinese group tourists. This policy change positively impacted South Africa's tourism industry, attracting a significant number of Chinese tourists seeking overseas travel experiences. According to recent data, from January to September of this year, over 28,000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa, marking a 247.7% year-on-year increase. Simultaneously, the average expenditure per Chinese tourist per visit to South Africa is approximately 50,000 Rand (equivalent to 18,518 RMB). Calculating based on the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa before the pandemic, this suggests that Chinese tourists contribute about 5 billion Rand annually to the South African economy.
With further relaxation of China's international travel restrictions, it is anticipated that the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa and their expenditure will continue to grow. This not only brings direct economic benefits to South Africa but also fosters cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries.

We then asked: “What types of tourism products are most popular in the Chinese market?”


Saudi Arabia Tourism Bureau
Alhasan A. Aldabbagh, Asia-Pacific Regional President

Chinese tourists are increasingly seeking unique and authentic travel experiences, and Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming the preferred destination for such experiences. Saudi Arabia opened its tourism industry in 2019, which was relatively unfamiliar to many. This provided a tremendous opportunity for the Saudi Tourism Bureau to introduce Saudi Arabia as a new destination to China. As a destination rich in cultural heritage, Saudi Arabia boasts over 10,000 archaeological sites and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Balad Old Town in Jeddah, Diriyah in the capital Riyadh region, and Hegra in AlUla. Chinese tourists will discover in AlUla ancient sites dating back over 200,000 years, offering a glimpse into historical life and human civilization.
The Saudi Tourism Bureau will continue to collaborate closely with Chinese partners to enhance the existing framework and provide a better travel experience for Chinese tourists. Every Chinese visitor will find experiences suited to their preferences, whether it's ancient sandstone structures in desert valleys, dining under the stars, experiencing Bedouin camel rides, sharing desert life and cultural stories with locals, or floating amid extraordinary rock formations in AlUla via hot air balloons or helicopters.


Qatar Tourism Bureau
Ding Xiaoqin, Greater China Regional Manager

From an overall perspective, in 2023, the proportion of independent travelers from China to Qatar was relatively high. After the World Cup, the occupancy rate of luxury hotels also reached a new high of 62%, with Chinese tourists staying an average of two nights in Qatar. Meanwhile, Qatar boasts impressive attractions and activities, such as world-class museums, desert adventures, traditional markets, the Arab Cultural District, and state-of-the-art sports facilities. Additionally, Qatar offers vibrant art and cultural landscapes and a diverse range of dining options, from local Arabic restaurants to globally renowned top-tier establishments like Nobu, Coya, and Sushi Samba, catering to Chinese tourists. Overall, we are very friendly to Chinese tourists and have made ample preparations. Qatar has abundant hotel resources, including boutique hotels and large resorts, among which brands like Mandarin Oriental, Banyan Tree, Anantara, The Ritz-Carlton, Kempinski, DoubleTree by Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, and Le Meridien are widely popular among Chinese travelers.


Jordan Tourism Board
Cheng Chenxiao, China Office Industry Manager

Jordan is located in Western Asia at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe. It possesses rich historical and cultural heritage as well as spectacular natural landscapes, increasingly attracting Chinese tourists.


Currently, Jordan's popular tourism products in the Chinese market mainly fall into two categories. One is the comprehensive tour of Jordan, which integrates historical culture, natural exploration, wellness, and gastronomic experiences. Besides visiting Jordan's most famous historical sites like the ancient city of Petra, the ancient city of Jerash, and other ruins, the itinerary also includes visits to Jordan's unique UNESCO natural and cultural site, the Wadi Rum Protected Area, as well as ample relaxation time at the Dead Sea, known in 2023 by the World Tourism Organization as a regional wellness center. The Dead Sea is acclaimed as one of the most therapeutically effective health resorts globally due to its salt content and mineral composition beneficial for the skin and body. Visitors can indulge in therapeutic activities like mud baths and saltwater baths here.


Of course, food plays an important role throughout the journey. In Jordan's comprehensive tours, apart from tasting traditional Jordanian cuisine, most products also provide an opportunity for participants to experience cooking Jordanian dishes themselves in Petra or Amman's cooking kitchens. Another type of product is Jordan's linked products with other countries, which typically involve a 4-5 day stay in Jordan, condensing elements of history, culture, nature, and wellness mentioned earlier into a short itinerary.


South Africa Tourism Board
Gcobania Mancotywa, Regional Manager for Asia/Australia, Middle East

South Africa is a country abundant with diverse natural landscapes, wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, attracting tourists from around the world. For the Chinese market, several types of tourism products are particularly favored:
Wildlife tourism: South Africa is renowned for its spectacular wildlife parks and nature reserves, such as Kruger National Park, offering unique opportunities for wildlife observation and photography, which greatly appeal to Chinese tourists interested in nature and wildlife.


Scenic exploration: South Africa's varied natural landscapes, from Table Mountain in Cape Town to the coastline of the Garden Route and the Blyde River Canyon, are popular destinations for Chinese tourists interested in exploring nature.


Cultural experiences: South Africa's cultural diversity, with 11 official languages and a history of multiple ethnicities, attracts Chinese tourists interested in experiencing Zulu culture, visiting historical sites like Robben Island, and learning about local traditional arts and crafts.


Wine tours: South Africa's wine-producing regions are renowned for high-quality wines and beautiful vineyard scenery, attracting many Chinese wine enthusiasts.


Adventure activities: South Africa offers various thrilling outdoor adventures such as paragliding, hot air ballooning, and cliff jumping, which are favored by young Chinese tourists seeking excitement.
Shopping and cuisine: Major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg provide rich shopping experiences, while South African cuisine, including local dishes, seafood, and fusion cuisine blending multiple cultures, is a significant attraction.


Luxury experiences: South Africa also offers a range of high-end luxury tourism products catering to Chinese tourists seeking top-quality travel experiences. Numerous luxury lodges provide luxurious accommodation, ensuring guests experience five-star service and facilities while exploring South Africa's wildlife and natural beauty in private reserves or national parks, offering exclusive guided tours in an undisturbed environment.
Overall, South Africa's tourism products cater to various needs of Chinese tourists, ranging from luxury travel to backpacking, cultural exploration to natural adventures. Efforts will continue to increase flight connections and streamline visa policies to attract more Chinese tourists to choose South Africa as their travel destination.
Regarding the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival and 2024, what efforts and plans has your bureau made to attract Chinese tourists?


South Africa Tourism Board
Gcobania Mancotywa, Regional Manager for Asia/Australia, Middle East

South African Tourism Bureau has consistently aimed to strengthen its market presence to attract more Chinese tourists for experiences in South Africa.


Firstly, in terms of marketing and promotion, we are intensifying our promotional efforts in the Chinese market. Through social media, online platforms, and partnerships, we are promoting tourism in South Africa. Utilizing digital marketing strategies on platforms such as Weibo, WeChat Official Accounts, and short-video platforms, we are releasing content and the latest tourism information tailored to attract Chinese tourists. In the industry, we are enhancing cooperation with Chinese travel agencies and online travel service providers to jointly develop tourism products and promotional activities specifically for the Chinese market.


We are also focusing on training professionals in the South African tourism industry to enhance their understanding of Chinese culture and their ability to receive Chinese tourists. Simultaneously, we are developing tourism products that align with the preferences and demands of Chinese tourists, such as offering Chinese-speaking tour guides, Chinese tourism handbooks, and Chinese mobile apps. Additionally, we plan to create more tourism products associated with Chinese cultural festivals, such as special activities during the Spring Festival or themed tours, to attract Chinese tourists during the festive season.


Looking at long-term tourism promotion, the South African Tourism Bureau will dedicate efforts to visa facilitation and enhancing air connectivity. We aim to gradually simplify the visa application process, shorten approval times, optimize the e-visa system to reduce administrative barriers for Chinese tourists traveling to South Africa. At the same time, we will endeavor to increase direct flight routes or collaborate with airlines to offer more discounted tickets and flight options to facilitate tourism exchanges between the two countries.


Furthermore, considering that Chinese tourists increasingly value sustainable travel, the South African Tourism Bureau upholds similar principles by strengthening environmental protection measures and sustainable tourism projects to attract environmentally conscious Chinese tourists. Finally, post the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the safety and health of tourists is an aspect we greatly value. We will provide clear health and safety guidelines to enhance tourists' confidence.


Saudi Arabia Tourism Bureau
Alhasan A. Aldabbagh, Asia-Pacific Regional President

Saudi Tourism Bureau recently concluded its largest-ever consumer marketing campaign in China. From November 17th to 23rd, we transformed the iconic North Bund in Shanghai into a dazzling Saudi outdoor market. Over 77,000 visitors participated in the week-long event. There, they experienced the authentic atmosphere of traditional Saudi markets, tasted delicious food at the Date and Coffee Museum, engaged in traditional Saudi attire experiences, and participated in various vibrant cultural activities. Thanks to these visitors and over 100 media and influencers, Saudi Tourism Bureau's website traffic increased by over 5400%, with views on related live streaming platforms surpassing 300 million.


Saudi Tourism Bureau has planned exciting online and offline marketing activities to raise awareness among the tourism industry and consumers about Saudi Arabia's latest diverse products. We are utilizing popular Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, RED (Xiaohongshu), and Douyin to showcase our unique products and create customized content and experiences for Chinese tourists.


We optimistically believe that the promotion activities at the Bund and the vibrant experience of the Saudi traditional market have ignited and inspired Chinese tourists to embark on a journey to experience the true home of Arabia. Since the start of these activities, we have received positive feedback, indicating a 16% growth in sales of Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination and a 277% increase in booking conversion rates. Simultaneously, to immediately experience Saudi Arabia's immersive experiences, we encourage our Chinese friends to watch our Saudi Experience Series movies and operation videos on Saudi Tourism Bureau's website and social media platforms to inspire and guide their future trips to Saudi Arabia.


Qatar Tourism Bureau
Ding Xiaoqin, Greater China Regional Manager

As one of the most crucial markets for the Qatar Tourism Bureau, we will continue to invest in the following aspects next year: Qatar Tourism Expert Training Program
Training more frontline staff in the tourism industry, including Chinese-speaking tour guides
Increasing the number of Chinese-speaking staff in hotels


Introducing electronic payment methods such as Alipay and WeChat Pay


In January 2024, the highly anticipated Asian Cup will attract attention across Asia. Both in Qatar and China, we will launch corresponding promotional activities to allow everyone to gain a deeper understanding of Qatar, the dazzling pearl of the Gulf.


Jordan Tourism Board
Cheng Chenxiao, China Office Industry Manager

To attract Chinese tourists, the Jordan Tourism Bureau has made a series of efforts and plans to enhance Jordan's attractiveness during the Chinese Spring Festival and in 2024. In terms of promotional activities, the Jordan Tourism Bureau plans to carry out promotions in the Chinese market specifically for the Spring Festival and 2024. This includes releasing tourism information on social media platforms, hosting online activities, and much more. Collaborative online and offline promotional activities with industry peers and assisting the Jordanian Embassy in organizing active cultural exchange activities between China and Jordan are also part of these efforts. These activities aim to increase Jordan's brand awareness and attractiveness, enabling Chinese tourists to better understand Jordan's culture, customs, and traditions.


Furthermore, we will collaborate with peers in the travel agency industry and airlines to create distinctive Jordanian deep-travel itineraries tailored for different customer groups, providing more convenient and comfortable travel experiences for Chinese tourists. Regarding visa policies, in addition to the convenience of on-arrival visas, Jordan introduced an online e-visa this year with a simple application process and fast approval times, further facilitating travel to Jordan for Chinese tourists. These efforts and plans aim to create a more welcoming environment for Chinese tourists, providing more convenience and distinctive activities to enhance their interest and enthusiasm for visiting Jordan.


How will the Belt and Road Initiative impact the tourism industry and create new growth centers?


South Africa Tourism Board
Gcobania Mancotywa, Regional Manager for Asia/Australia, Middle East

For the South African tourism industry, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can bring multifaceted and multi-level promotion, creating new growth centers. Firstly, the BRI emphasizes improving infrastructure and transportation networks, including enhancing aviation connectivity by increasing direct flights and reducing travel costs, making travel between South Africa, China, and other countries along the BRI more convenient. Additionally, through the BRI, Chinese and other investors may increase their investment in South African tourism-related infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, transportation facilities, and tourist attractions, thereby enhancing South Africa's tourism reception capacity and service quality. The BRI also serves as a platform for cultural exchange; South Africa can utilize this platform to promote its unique culture and tourism resources, attracting more tourists from China and other BRI countries.


In summary, the Belt and Road Initiative offers new opportunities and development space for the South African tourism industry, aiding in diversified development and sustainable growth.


Saudi Arabia Tourism Bureau
Alhasan A. Aldabbagh, Asia-Pacific Regional President

The interaction between Saudi Arabia and China in the tourism industry is not a new phenomenon. China's trade relations with the Arab world can be traced back to the Silk Road era 1500 years ago. As the world's largest tourism industry investor, Saudi Arabia provides unprecedented investment opportunities. China, being the world's second most populous country, Chinese travelers possess strong purchasing power and a passion for travel. In 2019, the number of Chinese outbound travelers reached 155 million, making China the largest source country for international tourists.


Continued close cooperation will help Saudi Tourism Bureau advance its "China Readiness" strategy, and the Saudi government will continue significant investments in international connectivity and aviation infrastructure. Currently, there are four direct flight routes between Saudi Arabia and China, operating in Beijing and Guangzhou, with plans to introduce more flights soon.


Qatar Tourism Bureau
Ding Xiaoqin, Greater China Regional Manager

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative and the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Qatar. For 35 years, China and Qatar have always understood and supported each other, jointly creating a chapter of friendly cooperation and mutually beneficial win-win situations. The high-level exchanges between the two countries have been close, and the five meetings between President Xi Jinping and Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the past decade have guided the development of Sino-Qatari relations. Recently, a delegation led by Yin Li, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, successfully visited Qatar. Qatar participated as the guest of honor for the first time at the 23rd China International Fair for Investment and Trade held in Xiamen. In the nine years since the signing of the Belt and Road cooperation agreement between China and Qatar, pragmatic cooperation has continuously expanded and improved in many new benchmarks and breakthroughs in various fields such as trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, high technology, and green initiatives, from the Lusail Stadium to Hongqi sedans, from the Harelsa Solar Power Station to water-saving farms, Chinese brands and technology have flourished in Qatar.


This year, the first group of young Qatari students went to Beijing to participate in the "Chinese Bridge" summer camp. The first pair of giant pandas welcomed in the Middle East, "Si Hai" and "Jing Jing," celebrated their first anniversary in Qatar's new home, where grand celebrations were held for them by the Qatari people. This year, Qatar will also host the Sixth China-Arab Friendship Conference, continuing a new chapter of friendship between China and the Arab world and China and Qatar.


Jordan Tourism Board
Cheng Chenxiao, China Office Industry Manager

The Belt and Road Initiative is an important strategic proposal put forward by China aimed at promoting global connectivity and economic development. In the tourism sector, the Belt and Road Initiative will create new opportunities and growth points for Jordan's tourism industry.


Firstly, the initiative will promote economic and trade cooperation and personnel exchanges between Jordan and China. With the increase in the number of Chinese tourists, the Jordanian tourism industry will have greater development opportunities. Secondly, Jordan, as an important node of the Belt and Road Initiative, has an advantageous geographical location and cultural resources. The Jordanian tourism industry can strengthen tourism cooperation with surrounding countries and regions through the initiative's infrastructure construction and economic development plans, opening up new tourism routes and business models, and expanding its influence in the regional tourism market. Moreover, the Belt and Road Initiative will provide more investment opportunities and financing channels for Jordan's tourism industry. Chinese financial institutions and enterprises will be able to participate in Jordan's tourism development and investment, enhancing Jordan's tourism competitiveness and influence.


In summary, the Belt and Road Initiative brings new opportunities and challenges for Jordan's tourism industry. The Jordan Tourism Bureau and the industry will actively explore new channels, models, and directions for cooperation with the Chinese market, further expanding the Jordanian tourism market. At the same time, efforts need to be made to strengthen infrastructure construction, improve service quality, and protect cultural heritage and the natural environment to ensure the sustainable development of Jordan's tourism industry.

IMG_0975.jpg
IMG_0976.jpg
IMG_0977.jpg
IMG_0974.jpeg

Contact

Create Consulting

bottom of page