ITB China 2019, the three-day B2B travel show organised by MB Exhibitions Shanghai, successfully closed on May 17 in Shanghai with 17,000 attendees, an increase of 2,000 from last year.
Now in its third year, this year’s event welcomed about 850 top Chinese buyers of which 40% come from the second- and third-tier Chinese cities.
“Overall, this year’s premieres, such as the customised travel area, new conference topics and the ITB China Travel Trends Report showed that ITB China has created unstoppable momentum and as such, is clearly bringing back optimism to the industry,” said Dr. Martin Buck, senior vice president, travel & logistics, Messe Berlin.
The Italian National Tourist Board is this year’s official partner destination, and also the largest national exhibitor with 32 co-exhibitors. Said Maria Elena Rossi, marketing and promotion director, Italian National Tourism Board, “We are investing in the Chinese market which is becoming very interesting for us as it has been constantly growing by 10% each year.”
As Chinese travellers become more sophisticated and gradually shift from sight-seeing focused travel to in-depth travel with growing interests in culture experience, Italy is expecting more opportunities from China market. Already, the country has seen a 20% growth in Chinese visitors in the first few months of 2019.
While European exhibitors continued to dominate the exhibition space, National Tourism Offices exhibitors from Azerbaijan, Philippines, Qatar, Romania and Zimbabwe, as well as Regional Tourism Offices such as Penang or Marianas Visitors Authority joined the event, echoing the trend that Chinese outbound tourists are looking for more diversified destinations and seeking new experiences.
Florian Sengstschmid, CEO of Azerbaijan Tourism Board told Travel Weekly Asia that China is now one of the fastest growing source markets in the Asia-Pacific region for Azerbaijan, second only to India. “Our target in China market this year is 40%-50% growth,” said Sengstschmid.
The ITB China Travel Trends Report released during the event cited other major trends of Chinese outbound travel, such as customised and themed travel, with special focus on island travel, adventure travel, sports travel and culture travel.
Online travel and travel technology also received growing attention from the industry, as new attendees such as kiwi.com, SiSi HK Limited, Special Tours Wholesalers LTD joined the eTravel World China segment.
Unlike the majority of the event’s industry attendees, Ctrip, the largest OTA in China, is now cultivating the opportunity of inbound travel to China. James Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of the board of Ctrip, pointed out key pain points such as visa policy, internet connection, transportation and destination promotion, which are obstructing the development of inbound travel industry in his opening keynote speech on the first day of the event. In recent years, Ctrip has developed digital solutions addressing these issues and is accelerating expanding its footprint to overseas markets, with Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam as its main targets.
Other innovators such as Laiye and TravelPlan attracted the crowd for their cutting-edge AI (Artificial Intelligence) and big data technologies and applications in travel. As last year’s Start-Up Awards winner in ITB China, TravelPlan just launched AI Chatbot and Big Data Processing Solutions on Mayflower, a leading OTA in Southeast Asia market. Abel Zhao, co-founder & CEO of TravelPlan said China is now one of TravelPlan’s next strategic markets.
ITB China 2020 will take place May 13 to 15 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre.