China set for inbound and outbound travel explosion

Guest Writer

China will experience an inbound and outbound travel explosion over the next few years,
keynote speakers at this week’s Asia Luxury Travel Market (ALTM) Ultratravel Forum in Shanghai have claimed.
“China, despite the crisis, and because of economic stimulus packages, has continued to grow in the last 18 months by between 8% and 9%,” said Economist Intelligence Unit Asia Pacific Editorial Director Charles Goddard.
“Asia is the growth market par-excellence with 50% of global consumption being centered in the region in the next four to five years. An explosion in travel will be an offshoot of this phenomenon.”
Nick Debnam, Partner in Charge, Consumer Markets, KPMG, China, said China was the second largest market for global consumer brands having surpassed the US in the last 12 months.
“It will become the No. 1 market overtaking Japan in the next two years. Brand recognition was high and the reason for purchase was shifting from “showing off” to “self reward”, he said.
This highlighted the willingness of people to be open to an “experience” and this boded well for the travel industry, he added.
To meet expectations however, more Mandarin speakers needed to be engaged in overseas markets to satisfy the needs of not only luxury Chinese buyers but also travellers, said Debnam.
Companies offering services also needed to have a solid internet marketing and fulfilment strategy given the high new media usage in China, he said.
Panellists endorsed the views of the keynote speakers and felt the best way to penetrate and provide luxury travel services to wealthy Chinese was for tour operators to create more personalised services and packages.  
The provision of these services was in their infancy and this offered opportunities for experienced western operators to enter the China market and localise their international offerings.
The establishment of creative and effective new media marketing channels and strategies was an area which operators were now urgently addressing.
ALTM Exhibition Director Debbie Joslin said: “The staging of the Forum provided a great opportunity for both suppliers and buyers to gain insight into the region’s future prospects for the luxury travel industry and aspects of developments that they should be focusing on in order to take advantage of the growth potential coming out of the region”.  
The ALTM Ultratravel Forum featured high profile panellists who tackled upcoming issues in the luxury travel industry. This year’s topic for debate was: ‘Is China/Asia Pacific set to become the world’s largest market for luxury travel’.
Panellists this year included Guy Crawford CEO Jumeirah, Andrew Jessop, Vice President Asia for Langham Hotels, Kent Zhu, Group Director of Sales & Marketing, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Reena Ho-Phang, Managing Director of BrandStory and Naysla Edwards, Director Travel Benefits, Membership Travel Services, American Express International Inc.

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