European MICE planners turn attention towards the Far East

Temple of Heaven in Beijing pictured

Interest in China from European meeting planners is warming up with the SITE Poland Chapter reaching out to suppliers last week (May 28) and DMCs reporting positive outcomes for targeted marketing initiatives since the Covid-19 outbreak.

There are still no details on when China will open to international travellers and the Covid-19 prevention steps that have to be followed, but optimism is being fuelled by reports that Chinese airlines have been mounting more international flights.

Gateway cities like Beijing are likely to remain uncrowded when China opens up; Temple of Heaven in Beijing pictured

Air China has launched flights between Taiyuan – a manufacturing base in Shanxi province about three hours by train to Beijing – and Warsaw, and Lot Polish Airlines is looking at restarting Warsaw-Beijing flights in July or August.

According to founder Liu Ping, China Star has received requests for face-to-face and hybrid meetings from two Chinese associations and a roadshow for a UK company. She added a construction company from the Netherlands is looking at China for a 2021 event.

Liu noted: “As we are also receiving requests for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing from Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands, we are now updating our brochure for the event,” adding it would appeal to Polish meeting planners with clients who are “crazy about winter sports”.

SITE chapter Poland’s chairman, Grażyna Grot-Duziak, said picking China would depend on its borders opening up and adequate air capacity. And as companies have to take a risk going overseas, proper insurance and guarantees of safety will also need to be in place.

Chapter vice president for research and development Cezary Wilemajtys commented that “clients are keen to choose destinations with a high level of medical services” and this was a key factor for events to some destinations being cancelled.

Liu noted it would be a good time to visit Beijing and Shanghai immediately when China opens up as its gateway cities will not be crowded, five-star hotel rates have softened and domestic air ticket prices have also been reduced.

Moreoever, as a big country with a lot to offer, she observed post-pandemic itineraries can feature more natural elements and outdoor activities.

Kris Van Goethem, managing director MICE, leisure and sport, Thomas Cook China, commented: “The only people who will be coming in 4Q are here for site inspections. For future planning, we hope we can go to one or trade fairs (in Europe) in 4Q to catch up with our clients and the marketplace.”

Goethem added that it is welcome news that the authorities are said to be supporting the industry by providing free booth space at major European shows.

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