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Results from the first-ever China Travel Trade Barometer show that China’s tour operators publish itineraries at a remarkable rate, something that should catch the attention of U.S. travel suppliers eager to tap the expanding Chinese market.
Itineraries are what Chinese tour operators use to market travel to specific U.S. destinations, and frequent updates allow for the introduction of new tours and product. China’s frequency of published itineraries is unusual, said Scott Johnson of Travel Market Insights.
“In China, tour operators are publishing year-round,” Johnson said. “Contrast that to Germany, for example, where there is usually only a summer and winter catalog published.”
The Barometer, produced quarterly by NTA, in partnership with Travel Market Insights and Ivy Alliance, captures input from top Chinese travel firms that promote and sell travel to the United States. The survey reports data related to travel to the U.S.: booking trends and projections, product awareness, and travel motivators and deterrents.
Barometer results revealed that May, June, September and October are the months that most of China’s travel trade publish itineraries. Eighty-eight percent publish in June, with 80 percent publishing in the other peak months. Even during the lowest months, November and December, more than two-thirds (68 percent) report publishing itineraries. Nearly nine out of 10 Chinese operators rate published itineraries as either extremely important (50 percent) or very important (33 percent) to their business.
This presents a clear strategy for U.S. operators, destinations and suppliers, said Lisa Simon, NTA president. “China is a market with enormous potential, and this survey shows that being included in an itinerary is a key to reaching tourists,” she said. “For many Chinese citizens, travel outside their country is still a new experience, and they rely on these itineraries for information and inspiration-along with personal contact with a travel professional.”
Many U.S. travel professionals need help reaching the expanding Chinese market. The number of tourists from China grew nearly 33 percent during the first quarter of 2011, compared to the same period last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. By 2015, the number of Chinese visitors is expected to reach 2,350,000 per year.
Another notable statistic from the survey is the tour operators’ awareness of specific U.S. travel products. Awareness was strongest for large cities and weakest for ski and mountain destinations, golf destinations and casinos.
The Travel Trade Barometer survey, conducted on a quarterly basis in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and the People’s Republic of China, is available through subscription. For more information, contact Scott Johnson at Travel Market Insights, 518-668-2559, or by e-mail.