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Face to face interview with TUI China CEO Mr. Marcel Schneider, exclusive in Travel Daily Asia

Friday, June 8, 2012

In terms of the inbound market into China, where does most of your business originate?

The majority of inbound business into China clearly originates from Asian countries (Japan, South Korea etc) and Russia. For TUI China however, our strongest source market is Germany followed by France and Benelux.
Which are the most popular Chinese destinations among international visitors, and which are the growing markets?
The most popular destinations really are the classic destinations suitable for first time visitors such as Beijing, Xi’an, the Yangtze River, Guilin, Shanghai and Hong Kong. These destinations are the backbone of our inbound business, which originates to a large extent from Europe and North and South America. Tibet has received a big boost after the introduction of the Tibetan railway to Lhasa and has been very popular ever since. Among second and third time visitors, destinations such as the Silk Road, Sichuan and Yunnan have become increasingly popular. For our recently launched adventure brand PureQuest, so-called mainstream destinations are obviously a bit less important, while areas where you can really immerse yourself in local customs and culture (Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Tibet etc) are in strong demand.
TUI was recently awarded an ‘outbound license’ to offer international trips to Chinese nationals. What level of demand have you seen for these services?

We all know that outbound travel has been growing strongly over the past several years and I am sure this trend is going to continue into the foreseeable future, despite the now slightly lower GDP growth forecast of about 8% that is predicted for this year. In view of this optimistic outlook we are absolutely delighted to be the only European JV in China to have been awarded the outbound license. We have seen immediate positive demand in the MICE segment not only for the USA and Europe but also the Middle East and South Africa.

What are the most popular international destinations for Chinese tourists?

Looking at the stats it is clearly Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan followed by destinations such as South Korea and Japan. Southeast Asia has been popular for quite some time and very recently the Maldives were in very strong demand. When it comes to long-haul outbound travel, the USA and Australia are doing fine. In Europe destinations such as Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland are among the more popular countries, and Spain and Eastern Europe have recently gained in popularity as well.

Are you seeing any significant growth in MICE bookings, both inbound and within China?
By setting up a fully dedicated MICE department six years ago we anticipated the strong growth potential we have recently seen in MICE. Inbound MICE is developing on a steady and pleasing pace, and domestic MICE activities and outbound MICE numbers are developing very positively as well. I am very optimistic that this trend is going to continue for quite some time.