China is the world’s largest travel market in terms of expenditure and the second largest in terms of outbound travel. European destinations are strengthening their position in this market.
On 12 July 2016 the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, announced that 2018 will be the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY).
This initiative provides "a unique opportunity to increase visitors' flows and investments on both sides" (Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner responsible for tourism – 'European Tourism Forum' in Bratislava on 11 October 2016).
It's also the occasion for European and Chinese citizens to better know and appreciate each other, contributing to the objectives of the 'EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue' (Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner responsible for education and culture, at the 'European Tourism Day' in Brussels on 29 November 2016).
The European Commission is preparing the ECTY in close cooperation with CNTA (China National Tourism Administration). Its main priorities are to:
- show what the EU has to offer to Chinese visitors by supporting various cooperative marketing campaigns.
- facilitate business summits.
- organise Business to Business matchmaking meetings for tourism operators at the most important fairs.
Key European Associations representing the travel and tourism industry have warmly welcomed this announcement. Many of them will contribute to the key events, together with partners being selected among leading European, Chinese and international companies.
Partners are recruited by the European Tourism Commission (ETC), mandated by the European Commission to play a central role in cooperative marketing campaigns in particular.
Several preparatory steps are being organised and will be advertised on a dedicated EU-China Tourism Year website:
- the first awareness raising event took place in London on 3 November 2016, on the occasion of the launch of the 'World Bridge Tourism' - a Preparatory Action voted by the European Parliament at the initiative of MEP István Ujhelyi.
- the first B2B matchmaking event will be organised by ITB China in Shanghai from 10 to 12 May 2017 enabling 100 EU tourism operators to look for Chinese buyers and partners.