Chinese incentives go longhaul as visa regimes slacken

MORE Chinese incentive groups are picking longhaul and exotic destinations thanks to improved air connectivity and more relaxed visa regulations, according to key DMCs interviewed at IT&CM China.

CITS International MICE Shanghai deputy general manager, Lu Yun, said 70 per cent of MICE traffic is longhaul, adding: “The market is booming and we are seeing new record numbers every year.

Clients rank ease of visa approval, security and connectivity as top criteria when selecting a destination.

Following a 10,000-pax incentive to the US last year, the company also sent a group of 3,000 people to South Africa, while a client has just picked the Netherlands.

Lu added: “This is unexpected and the key challenge is about logistics and capacity for a big group. Take the recent incentive to South Africa as an example, we had to transport all 3,000 staff to the destination within three days and we split them into groups.”

According to CTS HK Shenzhen Int’l Travel Service project manager, Sabrinnah Peng, most domestic clients have already seen China so they prefer to go abroad and hotspots are Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

She believes demand for more exotic destinations such as North Europe have potential.

Changsha China International Travel Service vice general manager, Bo Hong, has already received such requests from younger travellers who crave new locations like Mauritius and Israel. “I want to find out more about Sri Lanka, Palau and Fiji at the show for our groups of around 20 people each.”

Shanghai CS Innovation Consulting, sales and marketing executive vice president, Lee Kuan-lun, said he has received an incentive request for a small group to Reunion Island near Madagascar because of the volcanoes for teambuilding activities after their meetings.

However, Shanghai-based Lord Corporation’s China Region specialist, Aya Wang, pointed out that choices are limited as the company’s policy is to avoid politically unstable destinations, while CITS (Jiang Su) MICE manager, Xu Xian Chan, said only corporates in first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing can afford such trips as they are expensive. “But I believe the China market will mature and the trend will pick up,” Xu said.

Read more in the TTG Official Show Daily ­– IT&CM China 2015

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