According to ITB World Travel Trends 2015-16, Chinese outbound travel continues to grow rapidly, overtaking Japan as the largest outbound travel market in Asia Pacific. Despite a recent economic slowdown, travel intentions in China remain high and double-digit growth is expected in 2016, according to IPK’s Travel Confidence Index.
Canada has enjoyed steady growth in Chinese visitation since receiving Approved Destination Status (ADS) in 2010. Overnight arrivals to Canada were up 29% in 2014, establishing a record for the 11th consecutive year, according to Statistics Canada. While awareness of Canada as a travel destination is low in China, awareness of Alberta is even lower. Destination marketing under the Canada brand is critical to Alberta's success.
While traditional escorted group tours are most popular with travellers from China, the fastest growing segment is independent travel by affluent middle-class and luxury travellers aged 20 to 45. These younger travellers are increasingly turning to the Internet to plan and book their trips and are heavily influenced by digital and social marketing. Travel Alberta's marketing initiatives are well positioned to attract these high-potential travellers.
Travellers are increasingly interested in thematic visits providing excellent opportunity for longer, mono-Alberta stays. Destination Canada is capitalizing on this with a thematic content marketing program called Zhou You Jia Na Da (CTCTV). Travel Alberta is partnering with Destination Canada and tour operators to leverage this exposure. Top areas of interest for Alberta include ski, winter, RV, self-drive, photography and golf.
Alberta recently secured its first non-stop passenger service from China. Starting June 2016, Hainan Airlines will fly three times a week from Beijing to Calgary. Alberta also benefits from multiple air carriers flying into Canada which allows consumers access through connecting flights. The implementation of 10-year, multiple-entry visas by the Canadian government has helped to ease visa challenges and inspire repeat visitation.
Opportunity for growth
Maximize potential of the new direct air service between Beijing and Calgary and increased air access into Vancouver, to grow visitation for Alberta from first, second and third tier cities.
- Capitalize on the new non-stop service by Hainan Airlines through partnership with the airline and Destination Canada to promote direct access to Alberta
- Expand awareness and marketing opportunities in second and third tier cities to grow market share for Alberta
- Grow thematic travel and mono Alberta itineraries to promote longer stays and independent travel throughout the province
- Engage the digitally connected traveller through year-round marketing focused on targeting with relevant content
- Invest in marketing partnerships that will increase visitation during need periods and diversify experience offering within Alberta
- Strengthen Alberta's position in the MICE segment through strong vertical alignment with Alberta industries