According to a survey jointly conducted by Ivy Alliance Tourism Consulting, China Comfort Travel Group (CCT), and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Middle East travel professionals are looking to China to initiate international tourism post COVID-19.
The data was discussed by a panel of experts during the three-day ATM Virtual event that is currently taking place.
The Virtual ATM China Tourism Forum took an in-depth look at the potential of the Chinese outbound leisure market post COVID-19’s closed borders and what overseas destinations and attractions can do to reassure Chinese tourists that their destination is safe to visit.
Moderated by Dr. Adam Wu, the panellists for this session included chairman, International Institute of Peace for Tourism (IIPT) and former Secretary General, UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai; and founder and director, Pan Ukraine, Helen Shapovalova, among others.
Dr. Rifai opened the debate, comparing COVID-19 to other crises that the industry has faced in the past. He said: “After 9/11, people had to get used to security restrictions, such as removing their shoes and belts, no liquids, now that is a way of life. People are now afraid to travel, but things will change, new protocols will be introduced and the quicker that happens the more trust and confidence will be communicated, bringing travellers back.”
He also added that governments need to cooperate by signing bi-lateral agreements and an international certification programme would help to standardise levels of sanitisation and general protocol.
Shapovalova commented that ecotourism would be major trend when international travel restrictions were lifted: “Natural settings with green open spaces, mountains, rivers and fresh air will play a big part post COVID-19.”
Other issues discussed included technology; the role of international industry associations and why destinations need to change their propositions; as well as safety, trust and consumer confidence, which were often cited throughout the hour-long debate.
Returning to the survey, nearly half of those questioned said they preferred group tours but, given the COVID-19 outbreak, many Chinese tourists would now travel in smaller groups, catering for better social distancing.