Last week at the China Summit I attended a very interesting session on Tourism and China. We learnt that incoming tourism is growing at a fast pace with more than 100 million tourists visiting China every year. At this pace, it will very fast become the #1 tourism destination in the World and a very large market both for Chinese and foreign companies in the tourism sector.
Mr Haji-Ioannou, head of Easy Jet shown his interest in China tourism sector by participating at several Summit sessions. He said he qualified to speak about China tourism as a current tourist and noted that there were many opportunities not only in the airlines sector but in any products and services to be provided to this new flow of tourist. Mr Haji-Ioannou mentioned China starting to welcome international companies such as Starbucks, already present in the Forbidden City.
I learnt that China Airlines is growing at 50% a year and after a slow down in growth with the 2003 SARS effects, its number of passengers is very high again.
Another business opportunity to consider is the number of Chinese starting to have the means to travel abroad. The participants noted though that it was still difficult to get a visa for Chinese to leave their Country: it requires a one hour face-to-face interview that can be taken in very few places and costs about $100, the fee being not reimbursed in case of failure to obtain the visa. With such a large population and the per capita income increasing rapidly we can expect the Chinese to visit our cities very soon in large numbers, when China eases its Visa process.
Cross-posted on the World Economic Forum weblog.