Home to some of the world’s most famous sites and archaeological finds, China is strategically refining its tourism prowess to boost numbers. Natalie Hami reports.
A destination steeped in culture, history and home to the enduring and very appealing giant panda (considered a national treasure), China’s tourism industry has been working tirelessly to promote its tourism portfolio and stimulate footfall.
Just recently, key tourism stakeholders, including China National Tourist Office (and its overseas branches), launched a global campaign entitled ‘China Tourism and Culture week’ to promote the destination. With the tagline ‘China Beyond Your Imagination’, the campaign aimed to promote tourism, as well as showcase development in the destination through various events and exhibitions.
According to a recent report, China 2019 Annual Research: Key Highlights, released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the destination’s tourism sector is growing from strength to strength, with one in five new jobs having been created by the tourism industry over the last five years. In addition, tourism’s contribution to the country’s GDP has increased by 7.3 per cent, reaching 11 per cent of the total economy.
Eagerly opening its doors to visitors, China has introduced a number of transit visa exemptions, with the most recent one being the 144-hour visa exemption policy. Initially introduced for Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing, the policy was recently extended to include Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu and Kunming, and then on to Guangdong province (China also offers 24- and 72-hour transit visa exemptions). The expansion of the visa exemption policy to this particular province means that it covers every international airport in Guangdong – Guangzhou Baiyun, Shenzhen Bao-an and Jieyang Chaoshan, as well as four railways, eight land entries and 15 ports. Travellers who obtain a transit visa exemption in Guangdong can travel freely throughout the province for the duration of the exemption.
Highlighting the significance of the visa exemption to China’s hospitality industry was managing director, Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center, Brice Péan, who exclusively told TTG: “Now that China offers visa-free stays of up to 144 hours, our key feeder markets will be able to capitalise on the matter.”
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
China’s travel and tourism stakeholders are working tirelessly to ensure that visitors have both a memorable and a seamless experience.
General manager, The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan, Javier Albar explained to TTG that digitalisation is a global trend currently impacting the hospitality industry. He highlighted how the property has been utilising it to create an enhanced guest experience.
“At our hotel, we have implemented mobile check-in, which conveniently streamlines the check-in process. Our enhanced e-butler service also allows guests to communicate with our butlers instantly and efficiently.”
Meanwhile, in the capital of the Zhejiang province, general manager, Grand Hyatt Hangzhou, Michael Chia highlighted some of the luxury property’s guest-centric plans, reaching out to both repeat and first-time visitors.
“Our professional team is here to help create customised packages and personalised service. Our new room product and F&B offerings are unique in the market and in Hangzhou. We have plans to launch more special products and offerings by the end of the year to meet the needs of our loyal and first-time visitors.”
Chia further noted that the property will continue to promote various room packages, as well as local activities such as west lake boating, destination exploration and witnessing the mastery of Hangzhou craftsmen. In fact, the property enjoys an iconic location on the east shore of West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as being within walking distance of Hubin District, the city’s main business, shopping and entertainment hub.
Needless to say, part of China’s appeal is its abundant diversity and the ability of its ever-growing tourism industry to skilfully curate these one-of-a-kind experiences.
Keen to imbue guests with a sense of harmony and bring them into contact with nature, director of sales and marketing Asia, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Agnes Poon told TTG: “One of our bestselling packages at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain in China is the Panda Adventure Package, whereby guests can get up close and almost personal with the beautiful animals in a natural habitat.”
Navigating the tourism landscape with expertise and precision, the destination’s hospitality industry is focused on all types of travellers, be they leisure, business, MICE or FIT.
Chia of Grand Hyatt Hangzhou explained that the property focuses on both leisure and business. “The unique location of the hotel is ideal for our leisure travelllers. It is the best choice for families and tourists during the peak season. At the same time, due to the brand awareness of Grand Hyatt, which is known for its high-quality product and services globally, our hotel is also very popular amongst business travellers.”
Meanwhile, Langham Place, Guangzhou has been reinforcing its MICE offering through the launch of The Peak, an outdoor multifunctional pavilion with natural light, which opened earlier this year. Director of marcom, Langham Place, Guangzhou, Jessie Xiao explained that The Peak can hold 100 persons at once and is ideal for weddings and cocktail receptions, as well as private parties and customised events.
The powerhouse that is China continues to entice travellers worldwide to explore its cultural marvels and beyond.