DUBAI: A twenty-one percent increase in Chinese arrivals to the GCC is expected by 2021, rising to 2.5 million visitors annually, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market, ATM, 2018, which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 22nd to 25th April.
Published by Colliers International, the data predicts Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35 percent over the 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20 percent, with Oman at 12 percent, and Bahrain and Kuwait at seven percent.
GCC countries currently attract 1.9 percent of China’s total outbound market, up from 1.3 percent in 2012, however, positive trends are expected to continue as 154 million Chinese tourists prepare to go abroad in 2018 and a predicted 244 million will follow in 2022.
Keen to capitalise on the potential, figures from ATM 2017 show the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with China had increased 63 percent from the previous year, with the number of delegates arriving from China up by 28 percent.
Commenting on the expected increase, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said, "The outbound Chinese market represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers, and the GCC has been a destination of choice for years. Owing to its many business opportunities and a new generation of leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalise on these trends over the coming years, as millions of Chinese make their first international trip.
"Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and, today, we have seen more businesses than ever before eager to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Chinese market." Travel brands across the industry are working to maximise links with China, from introducing Chinese language TV and menus to hiring native Mandarin speakers.
In 2016, Emirates Airlines added to its China network with new routes to Yinchuan and Zhengzhou, in addition to regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Etihad pioneered a code share agreement with China Southern Airlines in 2017, with a reciprocal loyalty programme to begin in the coming months. Later in the year, the airline introduced staff uniforms to tie in with China's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and announced a points conversion scheme for flyers who shop with e-commerce giant Alibaba.
© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2018.