Voyages-sncf.com, a major player in European tourism, continues to expand its operations in China.
Having opened a subsidiary in Shanghai last March, the group - operating under the Rail Europe banner outside Europe - has signed an agreement with Alitrip to promote and sell French and European rail travel packages.
Alitrip is the e-tourism platform of Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce business, and was launched at the end of 2014.
“Less than a year after launching our Rail Europe China subsidiary, I am delighted that Voyages-sncf.com has signed this agreement with Alitrip, one of China’s major e-tourism players.
“This new relationship validates the strategy we launched when opening our subsidiary in Shanghai in 2016, helping us to further penetrate China’s growing tourism market.
“The agreement demonstrates the enduring appeal of France and Europe for Chinese tourists and gives us an opportunity to further promote the region as an excellent rail destination.
“The agreement will help us expand our business in this key market, where we are aiming to sell one million train tickets by 2020,” said Franck Gervais, chief executive, Voyages-sncf.com.
The distribution agreement between Alitrip and Rail Europe China will simplify travel arrangements for Chinese tourists travelling to France and Europe.
As internet use on mobile devices is far more prevalent in China than Europe, the agreement is aimed at satisfying emerging consumer preferences in China.
While most Chinese tourists still tend to travel in groups, 25- to 35-year-olds, representing over half of Chinese tourists traveling abroad, increasingly prefer to take trips as a family or couple.
This younger generation is also more attracted to theme-based and personalised holidays, albeit at the same European destinations as older travellers: the United Kingdom, France (Burgundy-Franche Comté, Nouvelle Aquitaine, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) and Switzerland.
For this new category of individual travellers, rail is the ideal choice for navigating Europe.