Tourists watch a 4D movie in "City of Flower", a flower-themed complex, in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Oct. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Hu Chao)
Vivian Wu, an experienced online travel business professional from the United States, has been busy meeting her Chinese suppliers and seeking opportunities at the 2019 China International Travel Mart (CITM) which concluded Sunday in Kunming, the capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Wu has been working in the online hotel business for the China market since 2004 and began to expand her career in the online tour business segment in 2015 for TripAdvisor, the world's major travel platform.
"In the past 15 years, China's online travel industry has grown rapidly. The China market has huge potential no matter if it's from the perspective of local tour operators or the consumer booking behavior," said Wu, regional manager of Greater China, TripAdvisor Inc.
In early November, TripAdvisor Inc. reached a strategic partnership with Trip.com Group Limited, China's largest online travel agency, to expand global cooperation, including a joint venture, global content agreements and a governance agreement.
The strategic partnership will expand TripAdvisor's global reach and help outbound Chinese travelers plan more meaningful trips, said Wu, who has participated in the CITM many times.
"I am here to look for potential targeted suppliers and to understand the latest market trends of China's tourism. Of course, it's also a great opportunity to catch up with many of my existing suppliers from all over China," she said.
Wu said she found that traditional offline tour operators start to pay much more attention to online business as well as have a strong desire to cooperate with online travel agencies.
Founded in 1998, the CITM has grown into one of the largest and most influential tourism fairs in the Asia-Pacific region.
The three-day event, sponsored by the Ministry of Cultureand Tourism, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the provincial government of Yunnan, attracts representatives and exhibitors from 75 countries and regions.
Tourism has become an important engine to power global economic growth with the total number of inbound and outbound tourists in China, reaching 291 million in 2018, up 7.8 percent year-on-year, according to Luo Shugang, minister of culture and tourism.
China's cultural and tourism departments at all levels will continue to expand the industrial scale, promote international cultural and tourism exchanges and cooperation, and provide more opportunities for all countries, he added.
Jacob Iwikua, the journey coordinator from an Australian company called Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, said it was his first time to travel in China and participate in this travel mart. But he has worked in China's inbound tourism industry for years.
"We send about 3,000 tourists from Australia, the US and the UK to China each year. The top destinations on their list include Beijing, Shanghai, Lijiang and Shangri-La," Jacob said, adding that he will visit some scenic spots in Yunnan this time to find more business opportunities.
"There is certainly a lot of potential in China's tourism market. It's an ever-growing market, especially for Australian guests," Jacob added.