Keith Andrew, a travel agent hailing from the United Kingdom, has been on the move, handing out hundreds of business cards in just two days.
His destination? The 13th China Tourism Industry Exposition held in Tianjin, a bustling city in northern China. This three-day event drew over 100 foreign travel agents eager to foster exchanges and collaborations with their Chinese counterparts in the thriving tourism sector.
“China will always be an irresistible destination for travelers due to its unique and enigmatic architecture, cuisine, cultures, and breathtaking landscapes,” remarked Andrew.
While China is experiencing a swift recovery in its domestic tourism sector, the demand for inbound tours to China is also on the rise, opening up new avenues for global travel agents.
During the first half of this year, China’s immigration departments recorded a staggering 168 million border entries and exits, marking a remarkable increase of nearly 170 percent year-on-year, according to data from the National Immigration Administration.
“Many of my friends are eager to visit China. I believe this is an excellent opportunity to establish a strong presence in this market,” expressed Jose Bermejo, a tour agent from Spain, who has high hopes for the Chinese market.
China has introduced a series of policies aimed at facilitating inbound tourism.
In late March this year, inbound group travel services for foreigners, offered by domestic travel agencies and online travel companies, resumed operations. Furthermore, the National Immigration Administration fine-tuned its exit and entry management policies and measures starting May 15, 2023, as part of a broader effort to streamline personnel movement and promote the opening up of the service industry.
“The Chinese government is making it increasingly convenient for foreigners to visit, and we are already witnessing significant improvements,” observed Andrew. He cited electronic visas as a prime example, making it more accessible for foreigners to explore China. Additionally, the 144-hour transit visa exemption program, benefiting travelers from many countries, has further boosted the tourism industry.
Notably, China’s major online payment platforms, Alipay and WeChat Pay, recently allowed foreign users to link their international credit cards to their platforms, granting them access to mobile payments across China.
“Every individual I bring from another country to explore China has the potential to change their preconceived notions about the country. They might share stories about China’s modernity, development, and their positive experiences with others,” Andrew concluded, underscoring the transformative power of inbound tourism.