At Contact, a business retreat for tour operators held Aug. 15–17 on Hawai‘i, the Big Island, NTA is offering the China Market Forum, a four-part program geared to help operators develop new product and improve existing offerings. This is the latest milestone in the association’s successful journey within the China market, begun in 2008 and punctuated by partnerships with the China National Tourism Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service and Brand USA.
The China Market Forum is part of a larger education program for tour operators attending Contact, held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Each of the forum’s four sessions focuses on a distinct aspect of China-U.S. tourism:
Market Overview—China market experts will examine the Chinese government’s recently announced initiatives aimed at increasing travel for its citizens and will discuss what the U.S. is doing to welcome these travelers.
• Isabel Hill, director of the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries with the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, will present travel data and predictions.
• Jay Gray, vice president of Brand USA, will outline the United States’ China market initiatives.
• Nick Hentschel, director of business development and legal affairs for AmericanTours International, will discuss China’s new tourism laws.
Ask the Top China Operators—A panel of Chinese travel agents will provide an overview of their operations and help U.S. tour operators grasp current trends and anticipate coming changes.
• Tony Ong, Beijing Hua Yuan International Travel Service, will discuss how to develop travel product for Chinese travelers.
• Skylar Jiang, China Youth Travel Service, will cover operational issues and ways to meet customers’ needs.
• Mark Wang, China Travel Service, will explain what U.S. tour operators should know about the Chinese government’s influence over Chinese travel agencies’ practices.
Packaging Travel for the Chinese Traveler—Participants in this session will examine all aspects of an itinerary and explain how to work with destinations and tour suppliers to create and market a meaningful, top-quality tour for the Chinese traveler.
• Tony Ong, Beijing Hua Yuan International Travel Service, will offer a Chinese travel agency’s perspective.
• Gil Buitrago, Delta Air Lines, will focus on the role of airline services.
• Jay Geng, Wasabi International Tours, will represent receptive operators.
• Tony S. Vericella, Island Partners Hawai‘i and Luxe Travel Hawai‘i, will represent destinations and tour suppliers.
China-ready seminars for the Travel Industry—Daniel Crain of BRIC Marketing Group will describe a series of seminars soon to be rolled out for tourism professionals. The sessions will explore three components of becoming “China-ready”—product, sales and service—and will be offered to the industry this fall in both in-person and online courses.
Chinese visitation to the United States increased 41 percent in 2012, according to OTTI. As the fastest-growing U.S.-inbound market, China is ranked as the nation’s eighth-largest source of visitors and is projected to become No. 6 by 2015. Chinese arrivals into Hawai‘i increased 28 percent last year (through November), and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority projects the China/Taiwan market to grow an additional 40 percent in 2013.
OTTI also notes that spending by Chinese travelers who visited the U.S. rose 19 percent in 2012, following 47 percent increases in both 2010 and 2011. Visitors to Hawai‘i from China are the highest spenders of any market, averaging $391.80 a day.
Visitation numbers could climb even higher. In February, the Chinese government announced new initiatives to guide the development of the country’s travel industry. Measures include adding paid holidays, increasing budgets on travel infrastructure, encouraging incentive and conference travel, and providing more opportunities for student travel.