Beijing International Tourism Expo 2012
On Friday the Attract China team attended the Beijing International Tourism Expo 2012 at the China National Convention Center, right next to the Water Cube and Bird’s Nest. We were excited to see an array of international exhibitors, however upon entering the expo, we immediately noticed the attendees were about 25% foreign and 75% domestic. Yes, there were WAY more domestic destinations advertising to Chinese than there were foreign, even though it was an international tourism expo.
Nevertheless, we started in the domestic section, taking in the best of China’s tourist destinations and seeing how they enticed Chinese tourists to come. The domestic destinations in China placed a large emphasis on nature and outdoor activities – a huge selling point for any of the 20 million Beijing residents who visit the expo. It was a fresh reminder of how sought after natural settings are for city dwellers in China. Whether it’s by the ocean or in a jungle, Beijingers know it’s just fantastic to be able to escape the city with the lovely beijing independent girls and enjoy the best of nature.
Japan was one of the larger countries attending the expo. They had an official booth for the country, and satellite booths of their own for Hokkaido and Okinawa, two fantastic destinations in Japan with direct flights to Beijing (we flew Okinawa – Beijing non-stop two weeks ago; it was extremely easy).
Israel, a country with no real presence at the COTTM 2012, had a large booth with different tour operators ready and waiting to chat. Their head of marketing proudly told us visitors from China are up over 30% since last year, and while they are just in the beginning stages of their online marketing campaign, they also recognize the fact that nearly all tourists from China come to Israel on group tours, so they really aren’t focusing on FITs.
Some of the largest booths belonged to airlines. Jet Star had a massive presence with people dressed in airplanes walking around, while China Eastern Airways did their best to focus on the benefits of their awards program. Air China boasted about their Star Alliance affiliation, and some Russian airlines we were unfamiliar with boasted about their direct connections to Beijing and Urumqi.
Greece and Turkey also had some large booths, with lots of people on cellphones who looked concerned and busy. Czech Republic had a small booth, however their rock violinist captivated a large audience, as did their beer on tap.
The most intriguing attendee we spoke with was the Dominican Republic. Although they have no website in Chinese, no real sense that any Chinese are currently visiting, and a firm understanding that the only way to get there from China is through America or Mexico, they still recognize the need to pursue Chinese tourists and create a long term strategy out of it.
Overall, we were a bit disappointed that the Beijing International Tourism Expo had a strong focus on domestic destinations, however we enjoyed it thoroughly, met some great people, and look forward to the event next year. They knew they were at the beginning stages of attracting Chinese tourists but still identified a strong need to pursue this market. It will be exciting to see what direction they end up taking as they continue their progress this summer and fall.