Foreign destinations make strong bid to lure Chinese travelers
 
Apr 26, 2016
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The spending power of Chinese tourists is now making foreign destinations work hard for their attention.

At the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market held in Beijing over April 12-14, a total of 400 exhibitors displayed their latest travel products.

Red-wine tours, cruise trips, shopping, hiking and adventure holidays were the highlights of the event's high-end travel section.

Greece, Israel, Namibia, Ukraine and Andorra made their debuts at the expo.

The Egyptian Tourism Authority has launched cruise trips on the Nile, leisure events along the Red Sea, self-drive tours in the desert and golf tours to woo the Chinese who are willing to spend for high-end experiences.

More than 115,000 Chinese visited the country in 2015, putting China in sixth place in Egypt's tourism ranking, says the tourism counselor at the Egyptian embassy in Beijing, Shaarawy Abu.

The country is hoping to ride the buzz created by the China-Egypt tourism year to attract 200,000 visitors to the country this year.

Egypt Air has increased weekly flights between Guangzhou in Guangdong province and Cairo to seven, and the tourism authority is pushing for more flights from Beijing to Cairo, says Abu.

"In addition, charter flights connecting Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu in Sichuan province to Egypt are operational," he adds.

Israel is also wooing Chinese tourists.

The Israel Tourism Authority signed a strategic agreement with China's major online travel agency Tuniu.com at the expo.

It hopes to attract 100,000 tourists annually by the end of 2017, says Bora Shnitman, Israel's top tourism official in China.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel has maintained a 40 percent growth rate over recent years, and is expected to reach 68,000 this year.

Israel has just signed a 10-year multi-entry visa deal with China and visitors from China will be able to take advantage of that soon.

Although the growth in outbound tourists from China dropped to 9.8 percent in 2015 and the yuan's depreciation poses challenges, outbound tourism still has great potential, says Dai Bin, the head of China Tourism Academy.

On average, the Chinese are expected to travel five times each year by 2020 and that translates to 7 billion domestic travelers and 200 million outbound travelers, says Dai.

Chinese mainlanders spent $215 billion on outbound travel in 2015, up 53 percent over the previous year, says a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp says that increasingly favorable visa policies, paid vacations and improving living standards are expected to boost the number of outbound travelers to 242 million in 2024.

The Chinese are expected to spend $422 billion on travel by 2020, according to a joint report by the Fung Business Intelligence Center and China Luxury Advisors.

By Yang Feiyue ( China Daily )

Photo caption: Chinese tourists at Temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt. More than 115,000 Chinese visited the country in 2015.[Photo by Du Du/China Daily]