Asia is becoming the second largest tourism destination in the world, second only to Europe, but according to predictions of the World Tourism Organization, China will be the world's largest tourist destination by 2020
Today, Asia is becoming the second largest tourism destination in the world, second only to Europe, but according to predictions of the World Tourism Organization, China will be the world's largest tourist destination by the year 2020. The country is bound to play a more and more important role in the development of the world's tourism industry – and definitely also for conference tourism.
In a recent article, the China Daily reports that tourism, as a new development point in the economy, has already become one of the pillar industries in China. The Chinese have been busy exploring both their mammoth country and venturing overseas, and more people are visiting China for various reasons.
In a recent March feature, Travel Daily Newes reports that besides generating an expected value of US$354 billion of economic activity in 2006, China's tourism industry has catalysed the country's development, driving many major infrastructure and transportation initiatives, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai. Capital investments in the tourism sector were estimated to be US$100 billion in 2006 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. For example, in a clear indication of faith in China, Disney has submitted a proposal to construct one of its famed theme parks in Shanghai which will initially occupy 4.25 square kilometres, expanding to 10 square kilometres in the second phase, with the US$3.8 billion project expected to open in time for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.
Boeing expects Chinese carriers to take delivery of over 2,600 airplanes in the next 20 years, more than tripling the current size of their combined airfleet, while China's main airport hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have embarked on privatisation plans to expand their capacity to cater for an increasing number of travellers.
As Asia's major economic power, China has been steadily climbing in the World Tourism Organisation's rankings since 2002, with tourism accounting for over 5% of its GDP in 2005 or 5.5% of the world's total travel and tourism industry. [NIEUWE_PAGINA]The growth story is not confined to domestic and outbound travel. As one of the top tourism destinations in Asia, China received about 120.3 million foreign visitors in 2005, including visitors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, which generated US$29.3 billion, (up 13.82% from 2004), in tourism receipts.
But let's focus on incoming tourism into China, and how the situation is for hosting conferences in China. China is very keen to develop the potential that its MICE market is showing; this should come as no surprise as China is the third largest business travel market in the world. China is slowly growing into a choice destination for MICE events, rivalling other Asian destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand. Government investment in infrastructure for events such as the 2008 Olympics and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai will certainly leave a venue legacy that will boost China's position as a key player in the MICE industry.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors has no doubts whether having a conference in China can open important doors. Early May 2007, this business association is organising its five day Company Directors Conference 2007 in Shangai. Shanghai continues to grow and prosper and AICD have consciously selected the destination to allow directors of Australian companies to experience and evaluate for themselves the breadth and depth of commercial opportunities for doing business with China. Next to the business aspact, they have chosen Shanghai for its 'unique glamour in sightseeing, business and shopping and areas of interest to all visitors'. Pre and post conference tours will be available for delegates to experience some of the delights of China, including a visit to the Chinese wall, the Tiananmen Square, river cruises, …