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NTA’s China Inbound Program Broadens Reach

June 7, 2013

As the number of Chinese travelers into the United States increases, the National Tour Association continues to expand its China Inbound Program.

At Contact, a business retreat for tour operators, NTA is offering the China Market Forum, a comprehensive education program geared to help operators develop new product and improve existing offerings. This follows the association’s successful events in China this spring, held in conjunction with Brand USA, and its continued work with North American destinations and suppliers.

“This market is so promising for our members, and we’re working with a variety of partners to grow it: U.S. and Chinese government officials, Chinese travel agents, and of course, NTA tour operators, suppliers and destinations,” said Lisa Simon, NTA president. “The China Market Forum at Contact will bring all the players together so we can formulate a game plan for growth.”

Contact is slated for Aug. 15–17 in Hawai‘i, the Big Island, and the China Market Forum is part of a larger education program for attending tour operators. Three sessions comprise the forum:

  • Market Overview—Led by Isabel Hill,director of the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries with the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments will examine China’s  recently announced series of initiatives aimed at increasing travel for its citizens and discuss what the U.S. is doing to welcome these travelers.
  • Ask the Top China Operator—A panel of prominent Chinese travel agents invited by NTA will provide an overview of their operations and help U.S. tour operators gain a firm grasp of the market and better grow their business. Speakers include leaders from China Travel Service, China Youth Travel Service and Hua Yuan International.
  • PackagingTravel for the Chinese Traveler—Participants in this session will explain how to work in partnership to create a meaningful, top-quality tour for the Chinese traveler. Topics will include all aspects of an itinerary: product, pricing, assessing the needs of the market and working with destinations and suppliers. Speakers come from a U.S. destination, receptive operator and airline company, and a Chinese travel agency.

NTA’s work with the Chinese market goes back to 2008, when the governments of the United States and China agreed to allow Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. NTA was designated to maintain a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle those groups.

Since that time, the association has specialized in facilitating U.S.-inbound travel by educating travel professionals in both China and the United States, and by participating (and leading) trade events in both countries. NTA’s efforts are led by Haybina Hao, director of international development for NTA.

“We partnered in Beijing with Brand USA to create the U.S. Pavilion at the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market in April. Prior to COTTM, we led a well-attended road show for the travel trade in Qingdao,” Hao said. “The best way to market the United States to the Chinese is to meet directly with Chinese tour operators and travel agents.”

Hao said that additional road shows are planned for this fall, when NTA will join the U.S. Pavilion at the China International Travel Market and participate in additional road shows. In between trips to China, Hao consults with U.S. destinations and suppliers to help them become more welcoming to Chinese visitors. And on June 26, NTA will offer its members a webinar focusing on the China market.

Inbound Chinese visitation increased 41 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries,and spending by Chinese travelers who visited the U.S. rose 19 percent in 2012, following 47 percent increases in both 2010 and 2011. China now ranks as the sixth-largest market for travel-related expenditures, and eighth in number of visitors. China is the fastest-growing U.S.-inbound market and is projected to become the nation’s sixth-largest source of visitors by 2015.

And visitation numbers could climb even higher. In February, the Chinese government released a document outlining new initiatives to guide the development of the country’s travel industry. Measures include adding paid holidays, increasing budgets on travel infrastructure, encouraging incentive and conference travel, and providing more opportunities for student travel. As a wider range of leisure tourists eyes the United States, NTA’s China Inbound Program will stand ready to facilitate their travel.

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