2.9mn Chinese visitors in GCC by 2022

Expert panelists at Arabian Travel Market explored how Gulf states can boost Chinese visitation further and cater to younger travellers from the Far East. GCC must deliver unique and tech-enabled experiences designed for free independent travellers if they want a market share of Chinese outbound tourists.

TT Bureau

ccording to research conducted by Colliers, the overall number of outbound tourists from China is projected to hit 224 million by 2022. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) figures show that the GCC is on course to attract 2.9 million of these visitors. Panelists speaking at Arabia China Tourism Forum shared their opinions on this growing segment. Unique experiences represent a key component when it comes to convincing younger Chinese travellers to visit the GCC.

Terry von Bibra, General Manager—Europe, Alibaba Group, said, “Smaller groups (of Chinese travellers) are going to new places to discover and have unique experiences that they can share with friends on social media. You cannot underestimate the importance of the ideas of discovery. Customers want to understand why things are unique and special. The more you can help them understand this, the better job you are doing.”

In addition to unique experiences, Xiuhuan Gao, Head of Asian Market – Overseas Promotions Department, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), believes small, personal touches are also helping the GCC’s hospitality sector to boost arrivals from China, such as Chinese condiments and in-room snacks. “Gulf countries are already taking steps to strengthen ties with China. Chinese passport holders can obtain 30-day visas on arrival in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, and the launch of Saudi’s tourist visa is expected to lead to further increases,” he shared.

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