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By: Professor Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO COTRI

Quoth the Raven: Nevermore

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.”

Edgar Allan Poe’s famous “The Raven” poem tells the story of a stately raven entering the author’s study to bring the message that he will see his lover “Nevermore”. Seeing the reaction of the tourism industry at least outside of the immediate neighbourhood of China, it seems that is the date when the return of the Chinese customers was expected: Nevermore.

At least 40% of the persons who were responsible to work with the Chinese source market in DMOs, NTOs and in private companies have been fired, given new responsibilities or left themselves during the time when the borders of China were sealed.

Therefore, it is not astonishing that the reaction to the restart of China’s outbound tour operators organising group trips abroad has not been met by the excitement which it deserves.  The phrase “Group trips” is actually a euphemism, mostly used to keep up the impression that the Chinese government is in control of outbound tourism. In fact, most of the bookings with, Utours and the other major OTAs and tour operators were for “air and hotel” only. Basically, that means that customers bought their air tickets via OTAs. Hotel reservations can be cancelled, and even if they are kept, travellers will not move around together with strangers behind the flag of a tour guide, but will travel alone or in small groups with their family, friends or colleagues as FITS.

The opening of the borders is moving faster than expected. Only one month after the regulation for Hong Kong came into force that 60,000 Mainlanders would be allowed per day to enter the SAR, this quote was scrapped and, since 2 weeks,  there are no limitations anymore for trips to Hong Kong and Macau SAR.  Hong Kong is especially in need of such a boost, looking at the 2022 numbers: whereas Macau could welcome more than five million Mainland Chinese visitors who could return to Mainland China without quarantine, a mere 375,000 Mainlanders arrived in Hong Kong in 2022, not even 1% of the 44 million in 2019.

Chinese tour operators are hiring new staff for their outbound departments and the provision of passports seems to be less of a bottleneck than expected in most parts of China.

I have said it before, but will say it again, it is about time to get back China competencies to be able to leverage the new wave of Chinese visitors. COTRI offers books, workshops, online and offline trainings and support with marketing, in many cases not only in English, but also in Spanish, Italian, French and German.


This week we will publish editions of the 88 PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR THE NEW WAVE OF CHINESE VISITORS – China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023.

ITB Berlin is just around the corner. If you are interested to meet and discuss how to work together for a successful restart of your China business, drop us a line. I will be happy to meet readers of COTRI Weekly after such a long time of virtual communication only. On March 9th, the last day of ITB Berlin, there will also be a China outbound tourism panel discussion organised by our friends from WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation, who were kind enough to include me as a panellist.

Therefore, get off the couch and start working for the Chinese market to avoid the fate of our poor protagonist of the poem, which ends with the words “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted—nevermore!”


Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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