Interview: China to become world's biggest tourism market: Accor Group
A tourist walks by a gate of the snow-covered Shenyang Imperial Palace in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Nov. 7, 2023. Shenyang Imperial Palace was built in 1625 and had been used as the imperial palace in early Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). (Xinhua/Yao Jianfeng)
Accor, the French hospitality group, anticipates China becoming the world's largest tourism market by 2035.
by Martina Fuchs
GENEVA, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- China is set to become the world's biggest tourism market, leading French hospitality group Accor told Xinhua this week. The group plans to expand its footprint in the country, and further diversify business growth, the company's Greater China CEO said in an interview.
"China is poised to be the largest tourism market in the world," Gary Rosen said via video conference. "Due to COVID, it may be delayed by several years. But still China will be the largest tourism market in the world by 2035."
His predictions echoed those made to Xinhua in September by Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC): "We're expecting, over the next three to five years, China to become the biggest travel and tourism market ... It's incredible."
Staff members welcome Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 25, 2023.(Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism has continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst crisis in its history. Between January and July 2023, arrival numbers reached 84 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
The reopening of China and other Asian markets and destinations is expected to continue boosting travel both within the region, and to other parts of the world, the Madrid-based organization said in September.
"We have embraced that as a company and positioned ourselves structurally to be able to accommodate and build towards that. We want to play an intricate role domestically because that also fuels outbound tourism, which is absolutely critical," said Rosen.
"Whether you're talking about the development of hotels or technology, we've really created a bespoke level for China."
People visit a Chinese milk tea shop in Cairo, Egypt, July 23, 2023.(Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)
Accor is headquartered in Paris and established in 110 countries. It has a portfolio of more than 45 hotel brands across all segments, from luxury to economy, and also provides entertainment, restaurants and bars, coworking and business services.
Since laying the first stone of its Novotel in Beijing in 1984, the French hospitality group has been growing in China.
Accor operates brands such as Raffles, Fairmont, Ibis, Sofitel, Pullman and Novotel, and last year surpassed 500 hotels in China.
A Chinese tourist takes pictures of the scenery out of the window on the Zentralbahn from Lucerne to Interlaken, Switzerland, Feb. 14, 2023.(Xinhua/Lian Yi)
"We are currently approaching 650 hotels in China and we are continuing to grow. China really does provide such an opportunity across multiple sectors of growth," Rosen underlined.
"Across the board, whether it's budget or economy, we're growing amazingly well across multiple sectors. The development of new hotel signings is still going ahead. We're in for a record-breaking year in 2023," he said.
Accor Group also plans to further expand its lifestyle division to fuel growth: "Lifestyle brands have the potential to do incredibly well in China. Ennismore has really established itself globally and it's now making that footprint within China as well, especially with the opening of our first Mondrian Hotel in Hong Kong next month."
Ennismore is a global collective of brands that covers hotels, venues, restaurants and bars.