The European Travel Commission has published a position paper on the importance of connectivity between Europe and China. China is increasingly becoming an essential player in the European tourism industry, bringing substantial economic benefits to the continent. Almost 13 million Chinese tourists visited Europe in 2017 – a figure set to grow by 7% annually over the next three years.
Building upon the success of EU-China Tourism Year in 2018, ETC has identified four major hurdles which could undermine this predicted tourism growth, as well as solutions to overcome these obstacles:
- Growing demand from China on the already-limited capacity of Europe’s airspace and airports will hamper tourism through increased delays, higher fares, and restricted flight choices. ETC recommends EU-wide guidelines for a cohesive approach to investment in airport infrastructure, as well as a review of the existing slots regulation to ensure the efficient use of existing airport capacity
- Market access and open skies plays a vital role in protecting links between Europe and China. The EU and China should aim for further market liberalisation for both European and Chinese airlines, as well as improving the latter’s accessibility to secondary European airports to give Chinese tourists a wider array of destinations to choose from.
- It is estimated that a full visa liberalisation scenario between the EU and China would increase the average growth in Chinese arrivals from 7% to 18% per year through to 2023. This in turn would generate additional inbound spend of €12.5bn per annum, create 237,000 additional jobs, and add 1% to the EU’s GDP. ETC recommends further simplifying the visa application process with the ultimate objective to provide visa free access for Chinese visitors.
- With Chinese tourists usually visiting more than one country on a trip to Europe, enhanced land mobility would ensure the benefits of tourism are spread more evenly and widely across the continent. The EU needs a clear, long-term strategy to encourage and support investment in road and rail, as well as a Europe-wide approach to multi-modal ticketing for air, rail and coach. Cross border partnerships between tourism authorities and with the private sector should equally be encouraged.
ETC’s full position paper on the importance of connectivity between Europe and China can be downloaded here.