World Travel Online

World Travel Online

Home > News >
Airports Around The World Keen On Getting More Connections To China
The air transport industry gathered this year from September 24-27 during the Global ROUTES meeting in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.
The central business district of Chengdu, China, on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.
 
The air transport industry gathered this year from September 24-27 during the Global ROUTES meeting in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. The ROUTES conference saw representatives from 700 airports and 300 airlines hosting and visiting stands in three halls at the Chengdu Century City New International Exhibition & Convention Center. The accompanying conference included a full-day Tourism Summit, visit www.routesonline.com/events/conference/35/tourism-summit/#mainContent for more information.
 
Chengdu, the capital of the province of Sichuan, has notably developed even faster than the rest of China. A large number of spectacular buildings have sprung up in the last few years, continuing the complete change since my first visit to the city in 1981. One example: The recently opened New Century Global Center boasts 1,700,000 square meters (18,000,000 sq. ft.) of floor space, making it the world’s largest building in terms of floor area.

In 2018, Chengdu will become the third city in China, after Beijing and Shanghai, to have two international airports. Even today, Chendgu’s existing Shuangliu Airport is the fourth busiest in China and offers a total of 89 international routes. Furthermore, as Vice Mayor Fu Yonglin explained in fluent English during the Tourism Summit’s opening ceremony, Chengdu is in many respects already among the top five cities in China.  Chengdu therefore will probably soon be seen as becoming the country’s fifth first tier city.

Direct air links to China were a big issue for many airports during ROUTES. Secondary destinations especially are competing for a greater share of Chinese arrivals—particularly among repeat visitors—in the wake of new opportunities, not least those enabled by the multiple-entry visa policies available in an increasing number of countries. Direct flights from China are often seen as the panacea, overlooking the fact that not all Chinese citizens live in China and that most Chinese outbound travelers tend to visit multiple countries during one trip.

Destinations which manage to convince a carrier to establish a direct connection are bound to see an increase in arrivals from China. However, if such new routes are not accompanied by product adaptation, careful guarding of one’s brand image and the right kind of policies, such growth is not necessarily sustainable. This has been exemplified in the cases of the Maldives and Mauritius, two island paradises which have suffered decreases in Chinese arrivals this year after a previous periods of strong growth.
 
Some destinations are tempted to use a lack of connectivity as an excuse for unsatisfactory arrival numbers from China. Nevertheless, the success witnessed in the Baltic country of Latvia in recent years has clearly demonstrated that it is still possible to attract many Chinese travelers without the help of a direct air link with China.

On the other hand, the Pacific island nation of Palau is an example that you can even have too much of a good thing, as cheap direct flights have brought many Chinese visitors to the country who tend to overload the local tourism infrastructure and to scare away visitors from other countries.

Morocco, which introduced a visa waiver policy for Chinese nationals in June 2016, seems to have learned from such examples and will strive to entice more select numbers of high-spending Chinese visitors to Casablanca and Rabat, rather than to draw mass-market package tour groups, regardless of the visitors having to arrive via Paris or Abu Dhabi or in future being able to fly directly to the African destination.

Whether Israel will be successful in avoiding the trap of attracting high-volume, low-yield visitors from China following next year’s opening of the new Ramon International Airport near the southern city of Eilat remains to be seen.

The discussions and presentations at ROUTES confirmed the fact that, since airports cannot relocate, it is crucial that their management cooperate with the destination’s local tourism providers in order to develop and maintain a good level of service quality for Chinese arrivals, as well as developing special interest products that attract high-level spenders, who will also serve as customers for their duty-free shops. The length of these Chinese visitors’ stay, however, is less important to airports than it is to the destination itself.

Airlines, on the other hand, are harder to convince to open up new flight connections, and can adjust if necessary the number of weekly connections to a specific market or even give up routes again. They do need, however, to understand the specific needs of their different kinds of Chinese passengers, as well as remaining aware of where the next developing “hot” destination is, in order to be able to adjust their services and routes in time.

Several current trends in the Chinese outbound market are already showing themselves to be new competition for airlines and airports. On the road, self-drive outbound camper van (RV) vacations are becoming more widespread. And thanks to the improved image of rail transport in China, hi-speed trains abroad are likely to be used.

Furthermore, on the back of the resounding success of ocean cruises amongst Chinese travelers, LA-based company Viking—one of leading river and ocean cruise operators in the world—is now offering European river cruises to the Chinese outbound market for the first time.

While Chinese travelers will still have to rely on flying to reach these destinations (if their vacation is not taking place in a neighboring country), they will nevertheless be less likely to be taking further flights once they are overseas.
  Source: Forbes

Relevant Information

Travel Fair Review

more

Complete and Value Added Marketing Activities in China

Most cost effective E-marketing to the entire outbound travel trade:

Fam Trips and Hosted Buyers:

PR and Marketing Events:

Multi Media Reports:

Webinar Online Education Program:

Specialist Training Program: