Interview with Matt Thompson, Event Director of COTTM

Now entering its 10th year, COTTM is regarded as the industry’s most important platform and remains the only business to business event that focuses purely on the burgeoning outbound market.

Matt Thompson, Event Director of COTTM Zdroj:

Matt Thompson, Event Director of COTTM Zdroj:

China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market
9-11 April 2014, New Hall, National Agricultural Exhibition Center, Beijing
Matt Thompson: A unique opportunity for your business

Q: On the 10th Annivercary of COTTM, can you explain the progress that have been done, in regard of Trade visitors numbers, Exhibitors and the support from China Tourism.

COTTM is now widely regarded as the most professional exhibition in China for the outbound market. Each year, it goes from strength to strength in terms of both exhibitor numbers and visitor attendance. The last edition was the biggest in the show’s history and we were proud to welcome more than 300 exhibiting companies from over 60 countries. It was also the largest show in terms of visitor numbers and there were more than 4,000 travel trade professionals in attendance, including representatives from all of the top outbound tour operators.

Q: Which other events in China are targeting the Outbound Chineses Travel.

There are many tourism events in China, but most of them are either just for the consumers or focus on domestic travel (within China). COTTM remains the only business to business event that deals only in outbound tourism.

Q: How do you evaluate the Middle East Exhibitors at COTTM.

There has always been an excellent representation from the Middle East at COTTM. The largest stand this year will be from the Egyptian Tourist Authority, who have supported COTTM every year for the last 10 years. There will also be an official pavilion once again from Iran, as well as a number of private sector companies. Over the last few years, we have been well supported by Dubai, including Emirates Airlines, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan and this year we are also delighted to welcome Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority for the first time.

Q: What message would you like to pass to Tourism Boards around the world, in particular Middle East Tourism Borads.

The dramatic rise in outbound tourism from China has been well documented. Chinese travellers spent a record US$102 billion on international tourism in 2012, a 40 percent rise from the year before. The UNWTO says the volume of international trips by Chinese travelers grew from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012, making it the world’s fastest-growing market. As traditional markets stagnate, the Middle Eastern tourism boards and private sector should be looking to China as a key source markets for tourists.

Q: Do you organise Hosting Buyers Program,  mean what incentives or facilities do COTTM offer for Buyers and Visitors.

Yes, we do have a hosted buyer programme at COTTM. As all of our visitors are Chinese outbound operators, we only include Chinese buyers on our hosted programme, bringing them to Beijing from established markets like Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as rapidly growing Chinese markets like Nanjing, Wuhan and Chengdu.

Q:  As for China market, what markets are Chinesse tourists going recently.

Traditional Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singaproe and Malaysia remain very popular for the Chinese travellers. But increasingly the Chinese are playing an important role in the development of other nations – for example, China is now the second most important market for Australia and New Zealand. The USA is also a hugely popular destination. Closer to home, the UAE is now in the top 20 destinations for Chinese travellers, putting it ahead of the UK, Italy and Canada.

Q: Do you believe that China will be No 1 in Outbound tourists, or it’s already No 1.

China has now become the largest source market for tourists, overtaking Germany and the USA.

Q: In term of spending and nights stay, do Chineeses consider as high spenders, and what kinds of attractions they are interested in.

As mentioned earlier, the Chinese market is worth over $100 billion, an increase of 40% from the year before. As China’s wealthy classes grow, so does the desire to travel, and luxury tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.

Q: Did you think or is it in your mind to invite Directors of Tourism Boards who still did not join or exhibit at COTTM.

We have a large number of tourism boards who participate at COTTM, from all over the world. But of course there is still room for more, and we would be happy to welcome them to our show!

Q: Do you think that budget Airlines are helping the Industry (Outbound tourists from China).

A few years ago, one of the things that was restricting potential growth was the Approved Destination Status (ADS), whereby Chinese citizens were only allowed to travel to countries that their government has granted ADS to. Nowadays, this is not really an issue as almost all of the main destinations have received ADS. This is one of the reasons why outbound tourism has flourished. However, with such dramatic growth, there also needs to be growth in the infrastructure and capacity to fulfil this. More routes from different airlines are important to help fulfil this growth, as would be the rise of budget airlines. In the UK, for example, easyJet recently announced that it was launching a dedicated Chinese hompege in response to the growing number of Chinese customers flying on the airline.

Q: Do Chineese prefer to go with Vessels (I mean do they like to spend their vacation in the Sea).

Actually, cruises are one of the fast growing areas of Chinese outbound tourism – we have cruise companies exhibiting at COTTM who do fantastic trade at the show. China should become the second largest cruise market (after the US) by 2017 and companies like Royal Caribbean reported a 400% increase last year in Chinese customers, which is expected to double again this year.

Q: If a destination do not offer Chineese food, would Chineese still considering to visit.

For any destination or tourism establishment to really be able to serve the Chinese market, it is strongly advised that they consider adapting their proposition to have a more tailored approach. It is not just about having Chinese food, but also staff who speak Mandarin, Chinese TV channels and newspapers, and even to understand the importance of numbers in China. The number 8 is considered to be very lucky, whilst the number 4 is very bad – some hotels in Las Vegas (a very popular destination for the Chinese) deliberately miss out the number 4 on their rooms! At COTTM, we work very closely with the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), who run training programmes at COTTM about how to do business with the Chinese. They also organise an Awards ceremony to show how international companies have changed their product for the Chinese market.

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