Published on : Monday, May 14, 2018
Ludivine Destrée, Chair of European Travel Commission’s China Operations Group, Wallonie Bruxelles Tourisme Beijing Representative, speaks exclusively with Travel And Tour World at ITB China preview. She throws light on how European Travel Commission is working to promote the European destinations to Chinese tourists, improving travel and tourism experiences through Chinese visa facilitation and air connectivity.
Travel And Tour World: What is your expectation from ITB China Preview and how it is different from last year?
Ludivine Destrée: From this event, we hope to make new potential partners. Through different events, media session, and conferences we will explore the Chinese market trends. We are also focusing on the opportunities of the market and its challenges. We are coming with new partners from different European countries, so we hope that we can make more potential partners here.
Travel And Tour World: 2018 will be EU-China tourism year. How and which lesser known destinations will be promoted in China?
Ludivine Destrée: Well, we are promoting all the lesser known destinations in Europe. Actually, Wallonia, the region I am representing is already a lesser known destination. You can see I am doing my best in promoting this place through fam trips, media tours, conferences and other different events. We are giving chance to promote these lesser known destinations with potential partners. But we could not reach due to budget limitations.
Travel And Tour World: What kind of economic cooperation you plan to implement to increase the opportunities between China and Europe?
Ludivine Destrée: Actually, we are working closely with different industry leaders to increase the travel opportunities. We invited Ctrip to be our partner for 2018 tourism year. We are working with them on different marketing-media campaigns to increase travelling opportunities. The industry partners are collaborating with ETC to carry out their tourism projects. This time, European Travel Commission has sanctioned the budget to fulfill the tourism promotional projects.
Travel And Tour World: Europe is the third largest destination for Chinese citizens visiting abroad. What incentives are being created to make quick progress on EU-China visa facilitation and air connectivity?
Ludivine Destrée: This is kind of a question often come back. Visa is a most important thing for travel and sometimes it becomes complicated for Chinese to travel to Europe. In this case, we are doing our best to overcome. ETC is also taking some steps where Chinese can get visa easily and quickly. Last year, the visa application centers were opened in fifteen different regions, from where the Chinese can apply easily for visa to travel to European destinations.
Travel And Tour World: In the age of digitalisation and artificial intelligence what will be your key strategies to attract visitors from across the world?
Ludivine Destrée: We are working to promote Europe through social media and digital marketing. China is very specific in social media. They don’t use Facebook and other popular social media sites and use WeChat and other Chinese social media sites. We are collaborating with these social media platforms to promote Europe and we also inviting Chinese social influencers to come and visit Europe. With that it will make an impact to the Chinese to go to Europe.
Travel And Tour World: How do you think ITB China will help a boom in European travel?
Ludivine Destrée: ITB China is B2B travel exhibition which is exclusively focused on the Chinese travel market. Through this participation, it will give a clear insight to the Chinese about the different European cities and other tourism attractions. The new partners who are now working with us, it will also help send more Chinese tourists to Europe.
Travel And Tour World: 2018 will be the European year of culture and heritage in Belgium. What activities are planned throughout the year and how will the commission ensure legacy of the year?
Ludivine Destrée: As you might know, Leeuwarden and Valletta are the two European cities chosen as 2018 European Cultural Capital. These two cities located in Italy and Netherlands are highlighting the cultural diversity through cultural and promotional campaign, fostering the contribution of culture to tourism development.
Travel And Tour World: What are the 2018 tourism plans of ETC for the market base in China?
Ludivine Destrée: China continues to fuel arrivals growth across European destinations helped by its expanding middle class, increased air connectivity and easier visa procedures, altogether contributing significantly to the surge of outbound travel from this market. In 2018 tourism season, we are planning to attract more Chinese with road shows in different cities of China. We are also organising social media marketing- campaigns. Also, we are inviting the social media planners, travel agents and tour operators to travel to Europe.
Travel And Tour World: How will tourism bloom in Belgium in the year ahead?
Ludivine Destrée: Firstly, Belgium is an emerging tourism market. Belgium’s one and only city Wallonia invites visitors to its natural attractions which are well preserved, its historic castles and fortresses and its well-known UNESCO world industrial heritage sites. We are doing marketing in China for three years. We see a huge difference in tourism and see more Chinese tourists are showing interest for Wallonia. There is an increase of independent travellers in Belgium. Also there is an increase of independent travel agents who are bringing the tourist groups to explore more in Belgium.