The number of Chinese tourists visiting areas involved with China’s “One Belt, One Road” (B&R) initiative surged 73 percent in 2016 to more than 10 million.
“There is very strong demand from travelers for markets in the ‘Belt and Road,’ with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Germany, France and Russia among the most popular destinations,” according to Ctrip COO Sun Maohua.
Over 2.5 million Chinese traveled to Thailand, 720,000 to Singapore and 630,000 to Malaysia, up 91 percent, 47 percent and 129 percent on an annual basis, according to Ctrip’s company data. Ctrip believes demand to countries and regions involved with the initiative will continue to grow over the next three to five years.
Sun said that Ctrip has been expanding into more markets involved with the initiative. For instance, Ctrip invested in India’s largest online travel platform Makemytrip in January 2016 and acquired UK travel search website Skyscanner in November.
“The ‘Belt and Road’ initiative offers a great opportunity for Ctrip to expand into global markets,” Sun said. “We are optimistic about the tourism development prospects in countries and regions along the route.”
Some countries and regions like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have good tourism resources but do not attract many people, she said, adding that if the potential is released in those markets, the tourism sector in each country will expand swiftly.
Some countries and regions in Central Asia are little known to Chinese travelers due to a lack of marketing and relatively strict visa policies. But as those countries and regions have been strengthening cooperation with the Chinese government, not only in trade, but also in other sectors like culture and tourism, a comprehensive communication bridge will come into being soon.
Source: Sina News