COTTM Concentrates on “being the String that Strings the Pearl Necklace”

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This autumn, COTTM Summit• Africa and the Middle East, organised by Tarsus Group Plc, was held in the Dongyuan Cultural Space in Beijing on 14th October.

Nearly 200 participants attended the event including Ms. Tang Xiaoyun, Vice President of China Tourism Academy and Mr. Bu Lijian, Deputy Director of Chinese Culture Promotion Society, Culture and Tourism Industry Committee as well as many other industry leaders. The representatives of COTTM China and many other travel professionals, attended the summit alongside to discuss changing themes around the travel market.

Ms. Qing Qinghui, representative of COTTM China, spoke of how the data from COTTM in April 2019 showed that 30.76% and 39.15% of nearly 5,000 trade visitors and buyers had a strong interest in tour products of the Middle East and Africa respectively. Over the past three years, more than 40% of COTTM exhibitors were from countries and regions in Africa and the Middle East from which it was once hailed as an ‘African” trade show. 

The conference stirred up many discussions of travel & tourism in Africa and the Middle East including “Effective cooperation between Chinese tour operators and DMCs;” as well as  “Opportunities for MICE tour operators in African and the Middle East; and the Customized travel and tourism in the destinations of Africa and the Middle East.”

Mr. Bu Lijian, Deputy Director of Chinese Culture Promotion Society & Culture and Tourism Industry Committee, mentioned in his speech that in recent years the improvement of the overall consumption of the national economy and outbound tourism has increasingly become an important part of people's daily life. China ranked the highest for the number of outbound tourists as well as the consumption of outbound tourism for many years. Domestic tourists made 5.5 billion trips in 2018, a huge potential for outbound travel market. Furthermore, 150 million outbound trips were made by Chinese which equalled to 150 million disseminators of Chinese civilization and culture. 

Founded in 1992, the Chinese Culture Promotion Society aims to promote Chinese culture and international exchanges. It is composed of successful people of cultural and social circles at home and abroad. It also has than 100 regional organizations, branches and corporate members. 

At the conference, Ms. Tang Xiaoyun, Vice President of China Tourism Academy, delivered a keynote speech on the development and prospects of the tourism market in Africa and the Middle East. Ms. Tang said that "China's outbound tourism market is growing rapidly, with 14.7% growth in 2018. At COTTM, We expect to achieve double-digit growth in 2019 which we believe is highly achievable. The African market has experienced significant fluctuations over the past decade, especially in 2014, which was the fastest-growing year in the past decade."

"Business travel, sightseeing, leisure, and conference are the main characteristics of African tours t which our main consumer group is young to middle-aged people. Besides, the market demand for high-end and customized tours in Africa and the Middle East is growing rapidly. According to relevant data, demand in first-tier cities, second-tier cities and third-tier cities accounted for 36%, 42%, and 13% respectively in 2018, indicating that the demand for customised tours in second-tier cities is also very high.”

The Vice President also highlighted that "the dominant market pattern is from the 1980's generation, who travel with their family; and the second, focusing on quality products; whilst the  third, expecting for customised tours."

Three groups of panel discussions then took place in the Conference arena, with the topics of “Effective cooperation between Chinese tour operators and DMCs; Opportunities for MICE tour operators in African and the Middle East; and the Customized travel and tourism in the destinations of Africa and the Middle East.” The leading tour operators who discussed these issues were as follows:

Xie Zhaosheng, General Manager of Customized Department of Ctrip.com
Guo Xiangke, General Manager of Shenzhen Toptour Int’l Travel Service Beijing Branch
Li Hewei, Vice General Manager of Caissa Destination Management Business Department
Huang Yan, General Manager of China Golden Bridge Travel Service
Cao Xu, General Manager of Africa and the Middle East Business Department of HUACHENG
International Travel
Chen Xing, Deputy General Manager of Africa and the Middle East Business Department (North China) of Beijing Global Tour international Travel Service Co., Ltd. 
Yuan Wei, Founder of Walk Through Africa
Ma Ning, Africa, and the Middle East Product Director of HH Travel
Zhang Hong, General Manager of SparkleTour.com  

As a DMC focusing on high-end and customised tourism in Dubai, Ms. Wang Ruonan, Director of Operations of Dubai Haobai Tourism Co., Ltd. explained and analysed the advantages and convenience of the current tourism market in Dubai.

Coming from UAE, another DMC, Just Go Tourism L.L.C, Ms. She introduced how the local travel agency escorted the tour group from group tour, customized tour, MICE and fragmented products in details, and expressed their views and expectations for the future.

Apart from the Conference, the Summit ran B2B meetings for DMCs from Africa and the Middle East to meet Chinese operators. There were 10 DMCs who participated in and were pleased with the quality of visitors coming to the Summit.

COTTM will be committed to playing its role as a platform for connecting overseas tourism resources and services with Chinese outbound tour operators, and concentrates on "being the string that strings the pearl necklace!"

The 16th COTTM will take place on 1-3 April 2020 in Beijing and we look forward to the participation from travel professionals all over the world.