Chinese demand for European destinations for meetings and incentive programmes is strong this year with DMCs and CVBs reporting growth rates as high as triple digits despite a less buoyant Chinese economy.
Exhibiting at IT&CM China for the first time, Ulrike von Arnold, deputy director, Vienna Convention Bureau, said: “With China’s 329,000 overnight stays in Vienna in 2016, China for the first time ranks among the top 10 (source markets) and delivered three-digit growth rate in January 2017.”
Vienna now wants to build up its corporate meeting and incentive arrivals from China, having long been recognised as a “world leading destination for European and international association meetings”.
She believes that Austrian Airlines’ direct flights from Beijing and Shanghai would help.
Maggy Wang, spokesperson of the 20-year-old China Marketing Association, said business development objectives are directing its activities to Europe.
“We are working with a European Chamber of Commerce alliance representative (for) our first trip to Europe in June to meet government officials and commercial enterprises in Poland, Germany and Belgium. We expect 30 to 50 members on this 10-day trip to promote their agricultural goods, garments and other products.”
Also confirming keen interest in Europe is Cheng Quan, general manager, CITIC MICE Beijing. “We are expecting growth of 10 to 20 per cent for outbound meetings and 20 per cent for incentives,” she said.
Quan added: “According to our 1Q2017 bookings and what we see for the rest of 2017, the number of groups is increasing but attendance is shrinking due to a less buoyant forecast among auto, insurance and beauty company incentives. Big groups used to be in the thousands but now they are averaging between 100 and 500 people to Europe.”
She pointed to the “easier” visa application process and the softening pound as draws for Chinese clients.
Chinese companies looking for business opportunities in the Middle East and Africa are also driving traffic to the region.
Wang is planning raw material sourcing trips to trade fairs in the Middle East and Africa this year, while Quan is also reporting interest in Africa.