Middle East: Chinese Visitor Summit Promotes UAE for Business
Building on the emergence of the UAE as a top destination for Chinese visitors, this year’s Chinese Visitor Summit (CVS) welcomed 75 travel buyers and a host of media representatives from China to meet 68 key suppliers from across the UAE and Indian Ocean destinations.
Held at Rosewood Abu Dhabi on August 25 and 26, it was the third edition of the annual event, which is organised by NPI Media and i2i Group China. The summit has gone from strength to strength since its first edition.
Indeed, China is now widely recognised as the source market with the biggest potential. Statistics from China Tourism Academy showed that outbound travel trips increased 18 percent in 2013 to just under 100 million – a figure the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) had earlier suggested would not be reached until 2020. On the business travel side, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has projected that, by 2015, China will surpass the US as the leading global source market for business tourism with spending on the sector increasing by as much as 35 percent by the end of that year. Understandably, the mood at the CVS 2014 was an extremely upbeat.
“At the launch of the summit three years ago, China had just entered our top 20 markets for hotel guests. Today it is our eighth most productive overseas market,” said Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (ADCB) at the event’s opening.
“We‘re delighted with this progress but face a challenge. Our Chinese guests don’t stay with us long enough – just 1.78 nights on average. We want more Chinese guests and we want them to stay longer.”
According to data released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), around 59,518 Chinese visitors checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and resorts during the first six months of 2014, up 189 percent on the same period in 2013. Total guest nights hit 105,915 guest nights, up 171 percent year on year.
“CVS is the leading platform for Chinese buyers to meet with suppliers here in the UAE,” said NPI Media’s Managing Director Rob Nicholas. “We have 75 buyers who have come to the UAE to experience the destination for themselves and to meet with 68 top suppliers, not only from across the UAE, but also from other destinations such as the Maldives and Seychelles, which are benefitting from the status of the UAE as a stopover destination to get in on the act and increase visitor numbers from China.”
Pre-scheduled buyer-supplier meetings at the CVS lasted 20 minutes each and allowed both parties to introduce themselves to each other, understand their requirements and develop a relationship. This was aided by 25 translators working on the show floor. Luncheons and dinner events further facilitated the chance to build relationships.
“CVS is an efficient way for buyers to meet highly qualified suppliers in a short period of time,” said Alexander Glos, CEO, i2i Group China. “Essentially, we did the marketing and promotion and gave them the unique opportunity to pick buyers and suppliers. It was great to have the Maldives and Seychelles join us, which was one of the best indications of the success of CVS.”
Among the participating hotel chains was Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. “This was an ideal opportunity for us to meet influential buyers from the Chinese market,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Middle East and Africa, Naeem Darkazally. “Our Middle East properties are well placed to serve Chinese visitors with convenient access to shopping and sightseeing, as well meetings and events facilities.”
A reception at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi welcomed the guests prior to the summit and they were also given a tour of Yas Island incorporating attractions such as the Formula 1 track at Yas Marina Circuit and theYas Links golf course. The tour culminated in a dinner at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Also included was a trip to The Galleria mall on Al Maryah Island while in addition to the Rosewood Abu Dhabi, hospitality partners included Royal Rose Abu Dhabi and The St. Regis Abu Dhabi.
The summit was followed by a visit to Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates with Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Sofitel The Palm, Dubai and Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah hosting the delegation.
“The tours allowed the delegation to discover these places first hand to transfer the expereince back to their customers in China.” said Glos, adding that apart from Shanghai and Beijing, the buyers were drawn from second- and third-tier cities with reportedly high disposable incomes for travel.
“I made a lot of friends and connections at CVS this year among the hotels and destination management companies,” said James Wu, CEO of high-end travel provider Uulux. “My trip was a successful one and I met with the suppliers I wanted directly rather than through any middle agent so that we could get better service and facilities at a better price.”