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Trip.com Group and other companies jointly released inbound tourism collaborative initiatives (PRNewsfoto/Trip.com Group)

Trip.com Group has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the China International Culture Association to promote inbound tourism.

Mr James Liang, Co-founder and Chairman of Trip.com Group and Mr Bo Sun, Chief Marketing Officer of Trip.com Group, were present at the signing ceremony.

The Nihao! China campaign, launched by China International Culture Association, aims to foster and promote cultural exchanges and establish friendships between China and visitors from around the world.

China International Culture Association (CICA) and Trip.com Group have signed a strategic framework agreement to implement the “Nihao! China” program, which includes filming and producing global promotional videos and the “Nihao! China” digital communication campaign. Additionally, the framework will look to build a service platform for inbound travel and organise activities agreed upon by both sides at the China International Tourism Fair, the Sino-French Tourism Year, the China-US Tourism High-Level Dialogue, and the World Conference on Tourism Development, among other events.

Several measures to boost tourism were recently announced by the Chinese State Council on the 27th of September, including optimising visa and customs clearance policies, increasing international flight capacity and routes to key destinations, and improving inbound tourism products and information services for foreign visitors. This strong alliance, with updated travel policies, is expected to further promote the high-quality internationalisation of China’s inbound tourism.

As the official partner, Trip.com Group and China International Culture Association will promote the Nihao! China campaign on its platforms across various markets. The Group will further curate engaging content to showcase specific offerings and services, and position China as a unique and welcoming destination rich in history and cultural heritage.

In addition, Trip.com Group will also collaborate with Chinese cultural centres, tourism boards and other organisations to promote and showcase the unique attractions, experiences, and beauty of China.

Over the next three years, Trip.com Group plans to invest in platform technology, marketing and promotion, and product integration to accelerate the development of inbound tourism in China.

James Liang, Co-founder and Chairman of Trip.com Group, addressing the guests at the ceremony. (PRNewsfoto/Trip.com Group)

Mr Liang said: “With the aim of boosting inbound tourism, Trip.com Group will leverage its technological expertise to enhance the ease of access for incoming visitors. Additionally, we will consolidate resources to foster tourism promotion, while highlighting the distinctive tourism attractions of China to draw in global visitors.”

According to Trip.com Group’s data, the top ten sources of inbound travellers to China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) are South Korea, the United States of America, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Germany.  The first ten months of 2023 saw four-digit growth in visitor numbers when compared with the same period in 2022. This equates to more than 60% of pre-pandemic levels.

Following the opening of China’s borders earlier this year, there has been a consistent increase in the number of China-related bookings made via Trip.com Group’s platforms. Trip.com data (excluding Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) saw a significant increase in booking numbers. In October 2023, there was a 98% YoY surge in inbound flight bookings, while September and August saw an increase of 58% and 89%, respectively.

The top ten most popular cities for inbound travellers (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) saw Shenzhen and Shanghai toppling the list alongside other destinations such as Guangzhou, Beijing, Zhuhai, Hangzhou, Foshan, Xiamen, Zhongshan, and Chengdu. Interestingly, seven out of ten hotel bookings made by inbound tourists are for Shenzhen, while two Shanghai hotels rank second and third in the most booked hotel list.

According to Trip.com, the demand for travel to China is expected to rise in the near future. This is credited to the efforts made by the government and the industry to facilitate travel to the country. For instance, the government has simplified the visa application process for tourists from several countries and has also, since November 1, removed the requirement for inbound arrivals to fill in the Entry Health Declaration Card. The data collected by Trip.com shows that global search results for inbound travel to China have significantly improved in Q3 by nearly 40% compared to Q2.

Trip.com recently launched the “China Travel Guide”, a comprehensive guide which includes travel-related information such as hotel reservations, travel advice, transport options, payment methods, insights into popular destinations, and more, enabling international visitors to better explore the beauty of China. Since its launch in September, it has already served nearly 100,000 overseas visitors.

E-payment service providers have also, in recent months, implemented measures to simplify and enhance payment facilitation. Today, top e-payment providers allow international travellers to bind their credit cards to their e-payment systems used in China. Previously, access to the payment platforms would require travellers to have a local bank account or card. Trip.com Group will collaborate with peripheral industries to enhance the entire inbound tourism process and improve the experience for foreign visitors.

Trip.com Group strongly believes in the ability of travel to connect different cultures and promote better understanding among people and remains steadfast in its belief that China is poised to enhance and refine its inbound tourism infrastructure and strategy, making it even more enticing to global travellers across the globe.