US business insiders find China’s travel market more attractive due to wider opening – Travel

Tourists visit the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, in Beijing, capital of China, 29 November 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

LOS ANGELES — U.S. business insiders attending a five-day travel industry event here saw greater opportunities in China’s tourism market in the near future as the country introduces more travel opening measures, including new visa policies.

China is expected to be a “top travel destination by mid-2024,” and as it opens up more widely, people are “excited to go there,” said Carmen McLeod Whittaker of IHG in Atlanta, a US Tour Operators 2023 attendee. .The association’s (USTOA) annual conference and market concludes Wednesday.

“Tours in Asia are big right now … China is a promising destination that we expect to see a really good recovery in 2024,” said Kirk Demeter, Asia Answers tour operator.

This year’s conference notably witnessed a national tourism promotion event called ‘Nihao! China” held in Los Angeles, which brought together more than 800 guests from the 2023 USTOA Annual Conference and Market.

Attendee Guo Shaochun, China’s Consul General in Los Angeles, presented the guests with China’s travel opening measures, including new visa policies.

The mutual solutions reached by the presidents of the two countries at a summit in California last month would directly benefit the tourism industries of both countries, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism and streamlining procedures for visa applications, among others, Guo said.

“Our cooperation in tourism has evolved from a simple exchange of tourism markets to a comprehensive cooperation across the entire industry. China and the United States have formed a comprehensive high-level cooperation model in the tourism industry,” he said.

Guo also presented the latest optimization of China’s visa policies to the attendees, most of whom are tour operators, saying that the ongoing reform of visa policies will be helpful for American businessmen to design and develop more China-specific tourism products .

“You are welcome to visit China, experience its rich history and culture, witness the breathtaking natural scenery, taste delicious Chinese cuisine, and enjoy the convenient transportation and other travel services,” he said.

Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA, told Xinhua that he has visited China twice and has some “amazing memories” of China, from seeing the Great Wall of China to experiencing delicious food.

“The American people are very much looking forward to visiting China,” Dale said. “I totally agree with what a USTOA member said: ‘People will never regret going to China.’

“Tourism is about bringing countries together and benefiting from cultural exchange. When people have the opportunity to experience it in person, they see that we are all the same – we are all human,” he said.

“Our customers are ready to go (to China). The scope of China has to be seen to be believed – it’s one of the world’s greatest civilizations… And it has fast trains, great air links, world-class hotels and wonderful cuisine that varies greatly by region,” said Bob Drum, CEO of one of America’s oldest travel companies, Alexander and Roberts.

During the year, China and the US have increased the frequency of flights several times. Data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China showed that during the winter-spring flight season, the number of direct scheduled passenger flights between the two countries is expected to increase from 48 to 70 per week.

But tour operators like Martin Chan of Ritz Tours, one of the largest travel agencies operating tours to China from the United States since 1999, hope for more.

“All we’re waiting for is more airline space — there aren’t enough flights to China right now to expand demand,” said Chan, who is keen to send more American tourists to China in the future.

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