WTE – World Tourism Exchange is China’s Premier Travel Trade Event
On October 21-23, 2019, China held its premier travel sector tourism
event in Haikou, Hainan Island, where international travel agent buyers learned about new destinations in China. The conference hosted by the Haikou government and tourism board brought in distinguished media from the U.S. and Europe who attended the special three-day event.
In the opening ceremony, Liu Cheng, deputy director-general of the department of tourism, expressed a warm welcome to the travel industry professionals flown in on Hainan Airways to attend the pivotal travel trade event. “This year, 74 million visitors will enter Hainan. As 59 nations do not require a visa to visit Hainan, it makes our island easy to visit for the American and European markets; also, we call our island “healthy Island” as we have minimal pollution and a very green Island,” mentioned Cheng. As a beach and honeymoon destination, the island is perhaps best described as the “Hawaii of China” as in the Sanya resort area in the south of the island, dazzling beaches, five-star resorts, and a robust cruise port attract the bulk of visitors.
Hainan Island, located in the South China Sea, is nearly the size of Taiwan and has a population of nine million inhabitants. The island is rich in foliage, including ten nature reserves and eleven national parks. The island is a golfer’s paradise with 58 golf courses scattered throughout the tropical isle. The destination is rich in oil, gas, and minerals. The importance of travel is not forgotten, with 60% of workers making their livelihood off of tourism.
Keynote speakers took center stage in noting China’s importance in the global tourism market. “One in ten jobs in the world are in the tourism sector. China is essential to the worldwide economy,” mentioned PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) President Mario Hardy, whose goal is to develop sustainable and responsible travel. “The expansion of the middle class in China tells us that 280 million Chinese have the means to travel and have yet to travel.”
Paul Cohen, co-founder, and partner at International Experiences, focused on China’s opportunity to offer new and unique experiences. “Travel is about creating memories. When it comes to China, the destination has something for everybody, albeit family, educational or adventure travel. Everybody wants a bespoke experience and to have a curated trip to meet their,” said Cohen, adding the importance of golf on the island. “Haikou is home to Mission Hills Resort, the world’s largest golf resort with ten courses on the property. The resort should be part of your client’s itineraries if they are golfers- a bucket list experience for golfers of all ages.”
Travel writer Bruce Northam enlightened delegates with lessons learned on the road, having traveled to nearly 150 countries, while Costa Cruises, Roger Chen, stressed Hainan’s growth in the cruise market.
FAM trips were offered to international guests to explore China’s diverse regions including five days to experience the best Hainan golf resorts; Changsha, the birthplace of Chairman Mao; Zhangjiajie (China’s National Park) for a glimpse at China’s Grand Canyon; Chengdu for spicy Sichuan food and panda experience; the massive city of Chongqing, and a Yangtze River Cruise.