Plus some other insights on the USA’s No. 3 Overseas Source Market: Ctrip, the online travel agency which one Chinese tour operator said several years ago would not be satisfied until it has a 100 percent market share in China, is on its way to sending more travelers to the USA than any other travel company in the world. This is what delegates to last week’s NAJ-sponsored RTO Summit East in New York City derived from a discussion among a panel of receptive tour operators that included Jack Lok, founder, L&L Travel, the largest Chinese receptive operator on the U.S. East Coast.
Last October, Ctrip signed a partnership agreement with L&L, Ctour, (formerly Seagull Holidays), a Los Angeles-based receptive operator that has China’s largest Visit USA market share on the West Coast; and Tours for Fun, a Los-Angeles based OTA that focuses on the Chinese market. That agreement gave the trio of U.S.-based companies access to Ctrip’s more than 250 million online users.
Lok told delegates to the RTO Summit that the company expects to double its current volume of visitors to the USA by 2018, reaching 1 million.
- Why they come to the USA—because the United States is regarded as a prestigious destination.
- The principal sources market within China for Visit USA traffic are the metropolitan areas of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing.
- The “first wave” of Visit USA travelers came as groups; the “second wave” won’t be coming as group travelers, but as FITs.
- We will continue to see group traffic China in healthy numbers because there will be more travelers from the nation’s second-tier cities. (Remember that “second tier,” in terms of population, would not be the case were they in the U.S., as there are now over 160 cities in China with a population of over 1 million, according to China Today.) Also, there will be an almost inexhaustible supply of first-time Chinese travelers for years to come.
- Groups still comprise about 65 percent of visitors from China, and will continue to maintain their importance as a market segment for some time to come.
- L&L is developing a new type of hybrid tour for some of its customers. There is a transportation portion of a trip, with travelers having the option to spend several days driving and exploring on their own. They are then picked up at an agreed-upon destination to complete their tour.