European and Chinese government and business leaders launched the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year in Venice on January 19, kicking off a program that expands the beneficial cooperation between China and the European Union, and explored new initiatives to increase the flow of tourists traveling to both destinations.
The programme of the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY), funded by the European Commission and delivered by leading European travel trade organisations, ETC, Welcome Chinese and ETOA, is designed to enhance business networking and contacts between major European and Chinese tourism businesses. It will also involve discussion of practical initiatives to promote lesser-known destinations in China and the EU, upgrade travel experiences, ease visa facilitation and improve air connectivity.

High-profile participants at the Venice event included:
•Antonio Tajani, President of European Parliament
•Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy
•Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Commissioner
•Du Jiang, Vice Chairman of China National Tourism Administration
•Federica Mogherini, High Representatives of the European Union for Foreign Affairs
•Luca Zaia, President of Veneto Region
* Pansy Ho, Founder and Chairman of Global Tourism Economy Research Centre

Business leaders included:
•Jenna Qian, Vice President of Ctrip
•Qiu Yin, Vice President of Tencent, Spokesperson
•Wei Zhihong, EU General Manager of UnionPay
•Jacopo Sertoli, President of Welcome Chinese
•Barry Lin, Tourism Resources Senior Director of Tuniu
*Luca Patane’, Chairman Uvet and Blu Panorama
•Mikko Turtiainen, Global Sales Vice President of Finnair
•Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises

China is the world’s largest travel market in terms of expenditure and the second largest in terms of outbound travel. The Chinese took 122 million trips abroad in 2016, a fifth of the total in global tourism. In future, higher incomes and reduced bureaucracy will make it increasingly easy for China’s middle class to travel. In response, European destinations are strengthening their position in this market to welcome them.

For Europe, the Chinese outbound market offers great growth potential. Ninety percent of tourists in Europe come from European Union member states. In Asia, only 73 percent of tourists are from Asia. In the United States, 75 percent of tourists are domestic travellers.

Since 2012, China, leads the ranking as the world’s top spender on international tourism.
In 2016, spending on international tourism by Chinese tourists reached US$ 261 billion, which is equivalent to a 12% increase compared to the year prior. This growth curve has made China the world’s largest spender in international tourism globally, far ahead of the United States (123 billion US$) and Germany (79 billion US$).
Expenditure by Chinese travellers generates around 23% of tourism receipts in worldwide destinations which greatly benefits receiving destinations.

The demand for trips in Europe from China is high, with 12.8 million trips in 2016 and an estimate of 20.8 million yearly within 5 years. To give an idea of the interest towards Europe, North America last year reached 3.1 million trips. The favourite place in Europe is France even if, considering physical security as one of the basic requirements sought by the Chinese traveller, in recent times Chinese travellers have moved on destinations such as Italy.
The EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY) has been agreed at the highest level by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang. Its specific objectives are to:

• promote lesser-known destinations;
• improve travel and tourism experiences;
• provide opportunities to increase cooperation;
• create momentum for quicker progress on visa facilitation and air connectivity.

The gathering in Venice to launch 2018 EU-China Tourism Year included two significant events one in Palazzo Ducale one in the Casino’; to further these objectives. The Business Summit assembled EU commissioners, large and small businesses, and a variety of other participants to deepen collaboration between the EU and China. Simultaneously, a High-Level Meeting took place to promote lesser-known destinations.

The 2018 EU-China Year promotion plan aims to make Europe seeks to become the best global destination for Chinese tourists. To achieve this goal, it is essential to train companies throughout Europe to better host the Chinese traveler and understand what he or she needs in terms of communication and services.

For this purpose, the European Commission and the European Travel Commission created a collaborative promotion platform aimed at stimulating tourism in Europe starting from 2018. Welcome Chinese is the exclusive partner for 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, in charge of organising all the promotional events. It represents the only official certification recognised by the Chinese Government that defines the hospitality standards for Chinese travellers, issued by the China Tourism Academy in collaboration with the China Central Television (CCTV) national TV network and UnionPay, the only credit card circuit issued in China.

Chinese tourists have profoundly different habits and culture that greatly influence travel choices. The first obstacle is language. There are also limitations on electronic payments and safety fears that guide Chinese tourism decision. Welcome Chinese educates operators in the key questions of ‘what the new Chinese tourists want and look for’.

Professor Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy, declared: “The tourism year is an innovative measure for China to promote international tourism, industrial cooperation and tourism diplomacy. Since 2013, China has held a tourism year with Russia, the United States, South Korea, India, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, ASEAN and other countries, and has greatly promoted bilateral and multilateral tourism development. The 2018 China European tourism Year will promote the exchanges of people, the common people, the economic development and the mutual trust of the strategy.

Welcome Chinese is a standard certification launched by the CTA. Select holding has the right to promote it worldwide. Through the standard design and special training of Chinese reception environment, the project is committed to make the world know better about Chinese tourists and provide targeted quality services. At the same time, we will make more Chinese travel agencies and OTA understand the tourist destinations and achieve pragmatic and effective cooperation through media promotion, meetings, roadshows, thematic reports and other forms.”

Mr. Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of ETC declared: “European destinations acknowledge the need to remain competitive in China. Only through deeper cooperation with Chinese authorities and an increased commitment of the European tourism sector supporting targeted joint public-private marketing initiatives, Europe will succeed in fostering more travellers from China.”

Mr. Jacopo Sertoli, President of Welcome Chinese, declared: “After the endorsement received by the Chinese Government, our aim is to help European companies to better understand the needs of the Chinese tourist, who in the last 10 years changed a lot. In the meantime we want to encourage agreements with Chinese operators.The EU-China Tourism Year is an outstanding opportunity for Italy, for its Welcome Chinese Certified Companies and for the companies that are going to be certified. Welcome Chinese gives certified companies exclusive access to the Chinese market. Through our partnerships with CCTV, UnionPay, Ctrip, Tencent, Global Data, Lobster Ink, Tuniu, Qyer, Caissa, Go with Tommy, Lecoov, Fliggy, Welcome Chinese stands ready to help any European operator that wants to become a Welcome Chinese certified member and attract more Chinese tourists”.

Mr. Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA declared: “Communication and co-operation: it is only with these that China and Europe can fulfil their potential. The potential is to be the greatest tourism partnership of the 21st Century.”

Mr. Zhan Shu, Gerneral Manager, Government Affairs & Tourism Center of Tencent declared: “The dialogue between Chinese tourism and European tourism is a dialogue between two ancient civilisations in modern society. Tourism is a bridge and culture is the cornerstone, and the routing of digital silk leads to one another. Tencent hopes to work with Welcome Chinese and can through the Internet technology, make more Chinese people feel the same convenience of life and wisdom in Europe like at home.”

European Regions participating in the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year include: Andalusia and Catalonia in Spain; Lapland in Finland; and Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy.

The following Unesco World Heritage Sites will be promoted:

•Aranjuez Cultural Landscape¸ Tarragona and the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (Spain);
•Bruges Historic Center; Wallonia Major Mining Sites (Belgium),
•Champagne Hillsides, Houses, and Cellars; Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay; Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin; Pont du Gard; Versailles (France);
•Olympia; Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus (Greece);
•Palaces and Parks of Potsdam in Berlin; Rammelsberg Mines, Goslar Old Town, and Upper Harz Water System; Romantic Rhine Valley; Trier; Zollverein (Germany);
•Tokaj Wine Region (Hungary);
•Wachau Cultural Landscape (Austria).

Further events promoting the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year are planned in Berlin on March 6, coinciding with ITB, the largest travel trade fair in Europe; and in Beijing on April 16. Subsequent events will coincide with GEM in November in London, CITM in November in Shanghai and CITE in December in Chengdu, amongst others.

This is the first partnership initiative between Europe and China on tourism. Given the importance of Chinese visitors to the growth and development of European tourism, the European Commission will assess at the end of the year establishing an ad hoc tourism fund to support the development of activities between Europe and China.

What is the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year
The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY) was announced by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the opening of the EU-China summit on 12 July 2016. The objective of this initiative is to foster continued tourism cooperation with a view to increasing travel and tourism between China and the EU. It should also help stimulate European enterprises to set foot on the booming domestic tourism market in China and vice-versa to allow more Chinese investments in Europe.

China is the world’s largest travel market in terms of both outbound travel and expenditure. Thanks to a massive population, rising disposable incomes, rapid urbanization and relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel, China is now the largest source of international tourism globally. The ECTY represents a great opportunity for the European tourism industry to explore the Chinese market and learn how to attract Chinese visitors and offer them the best possible experience.
The European Commission (EC) is preparing the ECTY in close cooperation with CNTA (China National Tourism Administration). On the occasion of the ECTY, an unprecedented level of initiatives will aim at growing importance of China as a source market to Destination Europe. The main priorities are to:

Activities in China
China is the most important market in the world and thanks to its quick development it is one of the top advanced place on earth in regards of digitalisation. New Chinese Social Media, the biggest OTA in the world and the revolutionary payments methods have been taken strategically into account by ETC and Welcome Chinese in order to develop an efficient promotion plan during the ECTY 2018. Many activities will be coordinated both online and offline, and among them:

1. European official online Pavilion on Ctrip web and mobile portal
2. European official online Pavilion on Tuniu web and mobile portal
3. Welcome Chinese WeChat Miniprogram ecosystem platform supported by the latest technology in the industry to support Chinese Travellers before , during and after their European Travel experience
4. Precise Marketing and engaging activities on Fliggy Pavillion (by Alibaba)
5. Digital and Audio Guides by Qyer
6. Specific Packages divided by area of interest by Caissa and other Chinese Tour Operators

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