The overall international inbound travel market and China, in particular, will soon be shaking off the drowsiness of the past two years and waking up to the opportunity afforded next year by the USA product.
Explains Shari Bailey, Connect Travel President & General Manager of Connect Travel events, “This means that Connect Travel’s young Travel Market in mid-February at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center Florida, as well as its decade-old Active America-China Summit at the beginning of April at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront San Diego, offer U.S. destinations and travel suppliers the chance to make a good first strike with international tour operators as the U.S. market swings into full recovery mode.”
“A review of some key facts, along with a quick citation of what some major industry professionals are telling us about the market recovery for the international and Chinese sectors should be a signal for those serious about doing business to sign up for both events,” added Baily, who noted the following:
• While the U.S. National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) has forecast of a slight decline in international visitation to the U.S. this year, it foresees an increase in 2020.*
• Similarly, while NTTO has projected a five percent decline in the number of Chinese visitors for 2019, the agency is projecting an increase in 2020.
• Even though its proprietary research and its not-for-public-consumption focus-group results can’t say so, Brand USA officials are able to report that the Chinese long-haul traveler really wants to travel to the United States—no matter what the political environment between the U.S. and China is.
• Zhihang Chi, vice president, North America, for Air China, said in a speech last month at the International Aviation Club of Washington D.C., that the U.S.-China trade war and poor relations have contributed in the decline of air travel between the two nations. As reported in Air Travel World, Chi said, “on the bilateral front, there has been nothing but standstill, but that, although “there have been some hiccups, but right now, both countries want to hit the reset button and talk things over … my belief is issues will probably be resolved, because I can’t envision a situation whereby the two countries are decoupled from each other.”
• During remarks at Connect Travel’s recent RTO Summit Florida in Orlando, Owen Teng, director of operations for Orlando-based New Creative Tours, Inc, explained that much of the anxiety over and weaker performance of the Chinese market had to do with the Chinese government’s warning in May 2019 (and the previous year as well) to travelers to be wary about visiting the U.S. because of violence and anti-Chinese sentiment. But, he added, “Remember, it’s still a new market. Don’t give up. Everything will come back.”
• Daniel Shen, chairman and founder of Los Angeles-based East West Marketing Corp.—it advises a number of destinations and U.S. suppliers in their dealings with the Chinese market—recently told INBOUND, “It’s mostly about the trade war between the U.S. and China. Everybody is aware of it …” But he was quick to point out that, even with a 5.7 percent decline, year-on-year in 2018 vs. 2017: “remember, 3 million Chinese did visit.” He noted, too, that 5.7 percent equated to less than 200,000 fewer visitors—not a dire number. Of course, other than that, online sales are growing rapidly and, moreover, nowadays, there is greater movement to FITs, with more personal tailor-made itineraries than joining a tour group.”
• Is it 1.4 Billion or is It Really 20 Million? At the recent meeting of the board of directors of Brand USA, its chief marketing officer, Tom Garzilli, explained that the organization is crafting a new marketing strategy—one that will target the market for what U.S. traveler suppliers and DMOs are after—long-haul leisure travelers; that is, the 20 million Chinese who travelers have passports, have U.S. visas and book long-haul travel. Hence, a new China 20 Strategy is on the way. Look for details of the strategy in coming months.
In the meantime, emphasizes Bailey, savvy travel and tourism sales and marketing professionals in the U.S. have the opportunity to take advantage of the forecasts and their figures by signing up and registering for the Connect Travel’s Travel Marketplace Feb. 19-21 (https://connecttravel.com/events/marketplace/) and Connect Travel’s Active America China in April. (https://www.activeamericachina.net/).
About Connect Travel Marketplace: It is an International travel show, specifically designed to address industry needs. Connect Travel Marketplace combines the right timing for product development, a unique format that creates an efficient and effective environment to expedite the sales process and close business and a robust educational track to inspire and inform industry leaders in a rapidly evolving global market. Last year’s featured speaker was former President George W. Bush. And former President Barack Obama will be the 2020 featured speaker.
About Active America China: Now in its twelfth year, it is the only show in North America 100 percent dedicated to building inbound Chinese tourism. Tour operators who attend Active America China are from companies that are responsible for over 40 percent of all tourism to North America. Active America China Affords the most cost and time efficient way to access the Chinese market by enabling travel sellers to meet key Chinese operators without expending the time and expense of travel to China. Active America China includes: presentations about the current state of the Chinese inbound market; clarifies how the Chinese outbound tourism market works; best-practice tips on marketing to Chinese travelers; and complimentary interpreters for all one-on-one marketplace meetings.
* Cntrl + Click here for details of USTTO’s long-term forecast (through 2024) of international travel to the USA from the Top 21 international markets.