Millennium & Copthorne is participating in today’s Chinese Visitor Summit, aiming to increase its share of the soaring inbound Chinese visitor numbers into the UAE and wider Middle East.
The event, which is being organised for the second year by Dubai-based NPI and i2i Group China in Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow, will bring together 75 leading Chinese travel agents, MICE buyers and tour operators for two days of face-time with a cross section of regional hospitality professionals representing hotels, ground handlers, tour operators, shopping malls and leisure attractions.
“This is an ideal opportunity for us to speak with some of the most influential buyers from the Chinese market. We’re in a fortunate position – Chinese tour operators are well aware of our brand, with 10 hotels in mainland China and a further 13 properties throughout South East Asia.
“Moreover our 17 hotels in the Middle East region are well placed to serve Chinese visitors, situated mainly in urban locations, convenient for shopping malls (branded luxury consumer products are much cheaper in UAE than in China), sightseeing and of course supporting the extensive MICE calendar.
“We often see Chinese leisure travellers dividing their stay between several hotels during a three to seven-night stay, so having a portfolio of brands that cover all segments will help satisfy this demand,” said Naeem Darkazally, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Millennium & Copthorne Middle East & Africa.
With Dubai only a seven hour flight from Beijing, an increase in inbound visitors from the Chinese capital to the UAE has augmented Millennium & Copthorne Hotels marketing strategy to target the burgeoning travel sector. A dedicated Chinese website and the launch of a WeChat app, the mobile communications tool used by over 70 million people in China, have all been integrated into marketing activity as spend from Chinese visitors set to top $284 billion globally by 2024 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
In 2013, 97 million Chinese travelled internationally with Dubai reaping the benefits of this with 143,000 Chinese visitors in the first six months of the year. This was a scenario mirrored in Abu Dhabi where Chinese visitor numbers for the first seven months of 2013 were up 36%.
Earlier this year, Dubai welcomed the single largest incentive group in its history when 14,500 delegates from Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. in China visited between 6-16 April. Nu Skin Enterprises is a US-based direct selling company, selling primarily cosmetic products, and it was rewarding the top sellers within its Chinese market.
The group flew into Dubai in batches of 1,500-to-2,000 throughout the 10 days on chartered and scheduled Emirates flights from various cities in China, and stayed in 25 high-end Dubai hotels as well as up to 10 hotels in Abu Dhabi.
“The MICE market is also very important to us and we have an excellent range of meeting facilities in our properties to accommodate groups. This year we have a landmark MICE property opening in Kuwait, Millennium Hotel & Convention Centre which has +6000sqm of meeting & conference space,” added Darkazally.
Millennium & Copthorne Middle East & Africa, currently has a packed pipeline of new openings during the next 18 months with an overall target of 50 properties to be opened throughout the Middle East and Africa by 2017.
“Already the Grand Millennium Al Wahda and Millennium Abu Dhabi are doing excellent business with the Chinese market, Q1 and Q2 2014 saw strong MICE business with China contributing heavily towards this increased performance,” said Darkazally.
Nearly one in ten international tourists worldwide is now Chinese, with 97.3m outward-bound journeys from the country last year, of which around half were for leisure. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Chinese tourists spend most in total ($129 billion in 2013, followed by Americans at $86 billion) and per tax-free transaction ($1,130 compared with $494 by Russians). More than 80% say that shopping is vital to their plans, compared with 56% of Middle Eastern tourists and 48% of Russians. They are expected to buy more luxury goods next year while abroad than tourists from all other countries combined.