Ctrip part­ners with US tour groups

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Ctrip, China’s lead­ing on­line travel agency, an­nounced it would sign a strate­gic part­ner­ship agree­ment with three US-based travel agen­cies in an ef­fort to fur­ther bol­ster Chi­nese tourism to Amer­ica.

The three US agen­cies — Tours for Fun, Ctour, and Uni­ver­sal Vi­sion — of­fi­cially signed the deal with Ctrip on Wed­nes­day in New York, agree­ing to share re­sources to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice for Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing the US, they said. The terms of the agree­ment were not dis­closed.

The US travel agen­cies com­bined make up more than half the mar­ket share of travel pack­ages sold to Chi­nese vis­it­ing the US.

Uni­ver­sal Vi­sion is the North­east re­gion’s main bus tour op­er­a­tor and in­te­grated travel agency;

Ctour, based in Los An­ge­les, is of­fer­ing tourism pack­ages whole­sale and has the largest mar­ket share on the West Coast;

Tours for Fun also has head­quar­ters in Los An­ge­les and caters pre­dom­i­nantly to Chi­nese tourists; it also works with English-speak­ing and Span­ish-speak­ing trav­el­ers as well. Tours for Fun pre­vi­ously re­ceived an in­vest­ment from Ctrip in De­cem­ber 2013.

“An im­por­tant strat­egy of Ctrip is to in­ter­na­tion­al­ize and to strate­gize out­bound travel,” said Tao Yang, Ctrip’s se­nior vice-pres­i­dent and CEO of the va­ca­tion unit, at the sign­ing.

“This time, Ctrip and [its] three part­ners will work to­gether to quickly form a rein­te­gra­tion of re­sources in North Amer­ica and through the quar­tet’s strate­gic part­ner­ship en­hance mar­ket share.”

The four com­pa­nies to­gether will launch tour groups, lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment, cus­tom­ized travel op­tions and will take ad­van­tage of Ctrip’s large user base of 250 mil­lion to fun­nel trav­el­ers across the US.

The part­ner­ship will also al­low travel book­ing and pro­vide feed­back through Ctrip’s IT in­fra­struc­ture, which Yang said on Wed­nes­day will help all the com­pa­nies im­prove their ser­vice.

“Be­fore, peo­ple would fill in sur­veys about their ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter a trip, but with Ctrip’s tech­nol­ogy, we can get feed­back real time, which will be in­valu­able,” he said.

Chi­nese tourism to the US con­tin­ues to grow, with 2.59 mil­lion vis­it­ing in 2015, an 18 per­cent in­crease over 2014. Spend­ing to­taled nearly $27 bil­lion.

Travel to the US rep­re­sents only 2 per­cent of all out­bound travel, giv­ing those in the tourism in­dus­tries of both coun­tries am­ple op­por­tu­nity, he said.

This year was des­ig­nated by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as the Year of Tourism be­tween the two coun­tries, which has re­sulted in nu­mer­ous ex­changes and part­ner­ships for all sec­tors across the in­dus­try.

Richard Sun, CEO of Uni­ver­sal Vi­sion, said that as Chi­nese tourists be­come more im­por­tant to over­seas des­ti­na­tions, the strate­gic in­vest­ment and part­ner­ship will “greatly pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of Uni­ver­sal Vi­sion”.

Ctrip is now the sec­ond-largest on­line travel agency be­hind the US’ Price­line Group and has a mar­ket cap of $24.9 bil­lion. The com­pany has been ex­pand­ing ag­gres­sively do­mes­ti­cally and has stated that it is look­ing to do so abroad.

With Ctrip’s tech­nol­ogy, we can get feed­back real time, which will be in­valu­able.” Tao Yang, Ctrip se­nior vice-pres­i­dent

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