China’s Red-Hot Business

Asia’s largest professional travel show wows visitors

By: Christopher Batin

If your travel business needs a refresher course on the newest tours offered in the red-hot China market, the China International Travel Mart does not disappoint.

As Asia’s largest travel show, CITM devotes two of its four days exclusively to agents, tour wholesalers and media. CITM’s main draw is that it highlights Asia travel and concentrates important contacts all in one location. With the rising interest among Americans to visit China, attending CITM is widely seen as a wise investment in keeping ahead of the competition.

CITM was held in mid November at the Shanghai New International Expo Center and is jointly sponsored by the China National Tourism Administration, Shanghai Municipal People’s Government and the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China.

The event brought in 4,100 individual exhibitors in 2,300 booths. On average, Asia exhibitors account for 69 percent; travel services 36 percent; hotel or hotel management groups 27 percent; tourism bureaus 18 percent; tourist attractions 9 percent; airline companies 6 percent; tourist cruise companies and Internet booking systems and others at less than 1 percent; and other tourism enterprises, 2 percent.

Most Chinese travel services are here, along with hotels, resorts, wholesalers, travel services, publications and airlines. Ongoing entertainment at individual booths includes dancing exhibitions, fashion models, reenactments of historical events and multimedia spectaculars. A variety of seminars on China travel, marketing and tourism is also offered on opening day.

Of particular value are the individual booths from small and large municipal tourism offices throughout China. Meeting face-to-face with these tour operators, government organizations and decision-making people can be an invaluable investment for agents.

“CITM is a perfect place for American agents to learn about China, as well as Shanghai,” said Jane Yang, a vice director with Shanghai Municipal Tourism and one of the organizers of this year’s show. “We welcome your readers to apply and attend.”

Admission to CITM is free to qualified travel agents and buyers, although you must pre-register and be pre-approved.

The first day is the most intense and crowded. I noticed many key contacts were present at their booths on Day 1 but not Day 2, yet the second day allowed time for interaction and individual business meetings. A good plan of attack may be to scope out the booths that interest you most on opening day, then make an appointment for detailed discussions. Most booths have a person who can speak some English. Other organizations hire an interpreter to assist for the day.

Expect to collect bags of gorgeous reference materials. The 560-page comprehensive directory of the exhibitors, which includes descriptions, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and Web sites is an especially valuable resource.

After Day 2, I left the show with a super-saturated course in China tours and tourism much wiser and more educated on the many smaller tours and subtle nuances of China’s myriad destinations. So consider a fam trip in early November next year, and reserve a few days for this show. It may just be a highlight of your trip.

Next year’s show will be held Nov. 1-4 in Kunming, with a return to Shanghai in 2008.

Tai Chi with a View

With its early November grand opening a success, the Peak Tower is now offering complimentary tai chi classes on Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m.

Hong Kong visitors and residents can wake up with the traditional, invigorating morning exercise with stunning views of the cityscape from the Rooftop Viewing Terrace.

Instructor William Ng has performed this centuries-old art, also known as shadow boxing, for dignitaries such as Tony Blair during his recent visit.

Organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, classes are limited to 30 participants and are disability friendly.


More Marriott in Beijing

Marriott International announced that in 2008 it will open its 11th Beijing hotel, the Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall, under an agreement with Beijing Huhua Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. The swanky 19-story, 615-room skyscraper will be located less than a mile west of the Beijing central business district and near the Ming Dynasty City Wall Ruins Park.

“We are very excited by the continued expansion of our portfolio in Beijing,” said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott International. “We are confident that the hotel’s outstanding location coupled with the excellent design quality envisioned for the hotel will contribute greatly to its future success.”

Amenities will include a lounge and bar, three restaurants, gift shop, health club and spa, a 4,000-square-foot ballroom and several unique meeting rooms.


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