Chinese tourists seek a new place in the sun

14:08, May 13, 2011      

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The Pacific Islands and African countries are looking to claim a share of China's lucrative tourism market, after the 2010 Shanghai Expo opened a window of opportunity for them.

By sending executives and marketing officials to attend this week's Eighth World Travel Fair in Shanghai, the countries are hoping to draw visitors away from traditional destinations, such as the United States and Europe.

The four-day fair, which began on Thursday, is expected to attract exhibitors from 45 countries and regions, and pull in more than 8,000 trade visitors and 30,000 members of the public.

Apart from regular participants, such as the US, Europe and Japan, the fair has for the first time welcomed representatives from Papua New Guinea, the Seychelles, Tunisia, Brunei and Mauritius, resulting in foreign tourism professionals and Chinese tour operators meeting, discussing and signing contracts for the upcoming tourist season.

"The fair provides an important link between the rapidly growing Chinese travel market and the global tourism industry, including countries such as the Seychelles and others, which are adding tourism to their traditional industries," said Jean-Luc Lai-Lam, a marketing executive for the Seychelles Tourism Board.

Nebil Hedhiri, chief representative of the Tunisian National Tourist Office in Beijing, said his country reaped great benefits from last year's Expo after gaining exposure in the Chinese market.

"We have seen a sharp increase in the number of Chinese visitors. The numbers have risen by 50 percent in each of the past three years," Hedhiri said.

Around 10,000 Chinese tourists visited Tunisia in 2010 and Hedhiri is optimistic that the number will double in the coming years.
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