Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner 2023. A feast of optimism.

December 19, 2023
By Helena Beard

This now annual industry leader’s forum with dinner was held in London’s Chinatown on the eve of World Travel Market 2023. 

With the kind sponsorship of LNER, and with support from Malmaison and VIVA City, the event was organised and hosted by China specialist, Guanxi. Guanxi was also marking its 10th year of offering expert consultancy, marketing services and sales representation in China to travel and tourism brands. 

Held in London’s Chinatown and over a three-course meal, the Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner brings together a kaleidoscope of key figures that influence the Chinese market in the UK and internationally. Attendees represented the width of the industry, not least with national and regional tourist boards, such as VisitBritain and Visit West, DMCs, tour operators, OTAs such as CTrip, and attractions including Buckingham Palace, Castle Howard and the Beatles Story. Also present were retailers, such as Bicester Village, and hoteliers, transport companies and airports, including LNER and Gatwick Airport. 

Key Themes for 2024

Following dinner, Guanxi facilitated a peer-to-peer open forum offering expert insights and experiences on the current and future market for the Chinese traveller.  Covering key statistics, opinions and observations, key themes emerged to note for the year ahead: 

The Chinese outbound market has quickly regained traction as the year moved on and after lockdowns were removed in Q1. There is certainly resilience and pent-up demand, and with ever returning air lift the customer volumes have followed. 

Ctrip reported that the UK business was looking extremely strong for the next period and that they are expecting a bumper 2024 for outbound Chinese travel to the UK. This optimism was also shared by other OTAs and DMCs specialising in China. Supporting this, a World Travel Market seminar later in the week pointed to Chinese outbound travel on track to potentially exceed the record highs of 2019 next year. 

Highly positive was that attractions were reporting that they were seeing a return of Chinese tourists and students already this year.  

It seemed the consensus is that the year ahead holds great strength for the Chinese market. 

Post pandemic trends of the Chinese traveller

An area to be mindful of is that the nature of the Chinese visitor is developing – becoming more independent, more experience seeking, more family unit based. This has certainly moved more during the absent last few years. Now more than ever it is key to understand these nuances and adapt market approaches accordingly. 

The ongoing dark cloud of VAT reclaim policy by the UK Government was identified as an overriding concern. Despite visitor numbers showing strength, retail partners were consistently noting that this policy is notably impacting spending levels. This is an area that without change will impact the level of UK Plc’s competitiveness in attracting its fair international share of the higher spending Chinese visitor.  

For more details on the Chinese market, advice and consultancy contact Guanxi

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