The global recession may have diverted attention from the impressive growth of the Chinese travel market, if only temporarily. The Asia Pacific region and China in particular still offer broad opportunities for growth and innovation.
The Chinese travel market has paused only briefly on its path of momentous growth. The global economic recession and corresponding downturn in travel have prompted gross bookings in China to decline by a projected 4% in 2009, according to PhoCusWright’s Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China. The recovery in China, however, is expected to be quick and substantial, with growth of 5% projected for 2010. By 2011, the total Chinese market opportunity is expected to be more than US$65 billion. “There is more than enough opportunity out there for everyone. Companies that are wading through flooded Western markets should not lose site of the opportunities in Asia,” says Ram Badrinathan, PhoCusWright’s general manager, Asia Pacific.
The online travel sector in China offers even more positive indicators. Online distribution growth continues at an impressive rate of 19% in 2009, in spite of the overall downturn in travel. “Online growth is a great draw for innovative companies that are prepared to move beyond the more mature markets. China has the most Internet users in the world, and they are increasingly shopping for travel online,” adds Badrinathan.