[photopress:beijing_hotel_ready_for_boom.jpg,full,alignright]Singapore-based Abacus International is Asia Pacific’s leading travel facilitator with more than 15,000 agency locations in 24 markets. The company’s President and CEO Don Birch reviewed the potential of the China travel market. He said, ‘The full extent of pending change has not been obvious to the Asian travel industry, because of China’s relative isolation until the last few years and many changes have occurred behind partially closed doors.
‘China-driven travel growth provides an excellent opportunity for forward-thinking private operators, National Tourism Organisations and Governments to work together to plan and invest in infrastructure, and ensure the quality of current and future experiences and attractions through their joint actions.’
As Asia’s major economic power, China has climbed from fifth to fourth place in the World Tourism Organisation’s rankings since 2002, with tourism accounting for over 5% of its GDP in 2005 or 5.5% of the world’s total travel and tourism industry.
Besides generating an expected value of $354 billion of economic activity in 2006, China’s tourism industry has catalysed the country’s development, driving many major infrastructure and transportation initiatives, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council capital investments in the tourism sector were estimated to be $100 billion in 2006
‘We expect China to be the fastest growing outbound tourism market over the next fifteen years, outpacing even the UK and the US, with more than 110 million trips in 2020. . . . While these figures suggest stratospheric growth and a highly-mobile population, the reality is that currently only 1.3% of the Chinese population travels overseas for leisure.’
Don Birch said, ‘Business travelers are a key market for the estimated 200 new 4-5 star hotel properties in development by major international chains such as InterContinental and Accor, which will be opened within the next three years in various key locations in China. China is slowly growing into a choice destination for MICE events. . . Government investment in infrastructure for events such as the 2008 Olympics and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai will certainly leave a venue legacy that will boost China’s position as a key player in the MICE industry.’
Source: 4 Hoteliers