By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer
A contingent representing the tourism industry of Minnesota recently attended the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market (COTTM) held in Beijing, China. COTTM is the only business show dedicated to the China outbound travel and tourism industry.
Now in its 6th year, COTTM has become a firm fixture in the industry calendar. Over 200 exhibitors from 50 countries attended to showcase their destinations, travel products and services to a high number of Chinese hosted buyers. COTTM 2009 visitor numbers were up nearly 5 percent to a staggering 3,258 – all eager to secure the best destinations and deals for the Chinese outbound market.
The Chinese outbound market is growing at a phenomenal rate. China’s outbound tourism market is expected to exceed 51 million tours in 2010; a rise of 7 percent from 2009. As the Chinese economy continues to grow (up 9 percent in 2008) and private incomes increase, traveling abroad is now becoming a regular part of Chinese life. The World Tourism Organization predicts that China will be the fourth largest source of outbound tourists by 2020 with a predicted 100 million travelers per year.
(left to right) Doug Killian, Director Tourism, Mall of America; Paul Sherburne, International Marketing Manager, Explore Minnesota Tourism; Melody Zhou, General Manager, CIAC Travel, Inc.; Daniel O’Neil, Vice President of Strategy and Sales, Bloomington Convention & Visitor Bureau
COTTM provided the National Tour Association, USA (NTA) and its American pavilion members with an excellent way to meet Chinese outbound companies. As NTA’s member, CIAC Travel exhibited at the 2010 COTTM in Beijing with Explore Minnesota, Mall of America, and Bloomington Convention & Visitor Bureau. The delegation included Ms. Melody Zhou, General Manager of CIAC Travel; Mr. Douglas Killian, Tourism Director of Mall of America; Mr. Paul Sherburne, International Marketing of Explore Minnesota; Mr. Dan O’Neill, Vice President of Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Prior to the opening of COTTM, the delegation met with the largest tour operator in China – China Travel Service, and had successful meetings with general managers of outbound U.S. department and MICE department. The delegation also hosted a dinner at the Presidential suite of Raffle's hotel Beijing. The following guests were in attendance: Mr. Sandeep Bahl, China Director of Delta Airline; Mr. Hanxing Gu, Vice President of CITS (China International Travel Service Ltd), Mr. Hui Wang, General Manager of Beijing Baosheng Air Service Co. Ltd. Ms. Hua Ren, Producer of CCTV International. During the dinner different ways and opportunities to promote Minnesota as a destination were discussed.
(Left to Right) Doug Killian, Daniel O’Neil, Sandeep Bahl, Director of China & Hong, Kong, Delta Airlines; Melody Zhou, Jeffrey Hammerly, International Tourism Manager, Travel Portland; Paul Sherburne