Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Europe Seeks to Reignite Chinese Tourism to the Old Continent Amid COVID-19

Chinese citizens could soon visit European countries, as both European and Chinese travel sectors’ authorities have recently discussed the possibilities of reigniting the latter’s tourism to Europe amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

The innovative ways to help Chinese citizens travel to Europe came during the first EUROPE Virtual Travel Trade Show held in China from April 19 until April 23.

The event, organized by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and co-founded by the European Union, brought together 127 European exhibitors and over 250 pre-qualified Chinese buyers to prepare for the safe recovery of Chinese tourism to Europe, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The meeting was divided into two parts, a trade-only exhibition and the second part, which was opened to the public, New Horizons Forum.

European countries’ exhibitors held over 1,600 business meetings with Chinese buyers, during the four days of the meetings, with a 95 per cent meeting completion rate.

The second part of the meeting, the New Horizons Forum, was attended by 20 leaders from the Chinese and European travel sectors to discuss Chinese tourism’s future in Europe, mainly about three event themes: Nature & Outdoors, Creative Cities, and History.

In this regard, the European Travel Commission Executive Director Eduardo Santander said that ETC has been present in China for ten years. According to him, the association cannot overstate the importance of maintaining close ties with their Chinese counterparts, particularly during these challenging days.

“With such an immense market and a huge potential, Chinese outbound tourism is an opportunity but also a challenge for European DMOs and tourism businesses,” Santander pointed out.

He stressed that he was delighted to know so many people participated in the event, “eager to counter the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic” and help recover tourism and travel.

“We strongly believe that this crisis cannot be addressed by any party alone, and cooperation is vital to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the sector,” Santander emphasized.

The Tourism Counselor of Spanish Embassy in China, María Llinares, and Representative of ENIT Italian National Tourist Board in China, Head of Shanghai Office, Cristiano Varotti, agreed that the interest in a more in-depth travel experience and smaller group sizes could help Europe’s famous destinations like Italy and Spain demassify, dispersing travellers from tourism hotspots and leading them to have more enriching trips.

Another critical point of agreement among the forum’s participants was the importance of digitalization to help China’s travellers to have better experiences, taking into account inspiration and pre-trip planning channels, digital resources, etc.

Participants in the event agreed that among the main challenges to restart Chinese tourism to Europe is the uncertainty about the speed of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and when government regulations will permit Chinese outbound tourism to resume.

However, the participants in this event also agreed that moving beyond these challenges and making the post-pandemic Chinese travel experience in Europe better can be reached through dialogues facilitated by the EUROPE Virtual Travel Trade Show in China.

Yesterday, on May 3, the European Commission introduced a proposal to the Member States to gradually begin to open their borders and permit vaccinated passengers from third countries to enter the EU and Schengen Zone countries for non-essential purposes.

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