SANYA, Hainan, April 24 -- Despite the economic slowdown, China's tourism sector has tremendous potential, a senior international hotelier told Xinhua on Thursday ahead of a global tourism summit.
"We see nothing but potential, nothing but opportunities in China's tourism market," said Kristian Petersen, area director of operations for East China at Marriott and executive general manager of Renaissance Sanya Resort and Spa, the main venue for the ongoing 14th World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit.
High-end hotels took a blow last year as the Chinese government launched a frugality campaign to uproot bureaucratic and extravagant work styles among public servants, a policy that has reportedly prompted star hotels to downgrade their ratings to woo customers.
Petersen said that the policy had impacted business, but he has remained optimistic on the Chinese market, especially due to opportunities from the booming wedding sector.
"Especially in Hainan, it can be a main niche market as the natural environment offers a perfect place for a wedding," he added.
He said that Chinese people are increasingly health-sensitive, sophisticated and tend to like having more choice as they become wealthier. Most tourists stay in Hainan much longer than in Shanghai and Beijing as it is a desirable recreational resort, Petersen said.
A longer stay means more recreational demands and services, and that requires the local government to speed up development of infrastructure and recreational facilities, which is now one of the major tasks outlined by the provincial government.
Petersen said it takes partnership among local governments, hotels and other stakeholders to upgrade local tourism. While government can build more infrastructure, hotels can offer insightful data and information to them to facilitate decision-making, as hotels are more sensitive to tourists' demands and market trends.
He said the top-notch hotels of the future will be more digital and mobile, allowing a guest to check in and make orders simply by using a cellphone.
"For the first time in China we applied 4G technology to support the WTTC global summit and that's going to be the norm in the future," he said.
Future hotels should be able to offer an "ecosystem" for tourists, a small world where guests can satisfy almost all of their recreational demands and find detail-oriented services, he added.
"One can go shopping, swimming, diving and enjoy other fun-seeking activities within a small community. It's a whole package and one-stop service," he said.
Tourists coming to China will have more choices in the future, said Petersen, adding that China's ongoing market-oriented reforms and further opening-up will relax controls in resource sharing.
China is going to be a glamorous resort, and it's not an "if" issue, but a matter of when and where, he said.