Li Baochun is Executive Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). We asked him how the organisation, which was established in 2012, is developing.
We are very proud of the development of WTCF. Under the initiative of the Municipality of Beijing, 58 founding members created WTCF to become the leading international organisation in the field of urban tourism. We have successfully grown as a federation. In 2019, we have reached 211 members covering 69 countries and territories of which 140 are city members and 71 institutional members covering all parts of the tourism industry value chain. I believe we have been very successful in positioning ourselves as the leading international city tourism organisation and will keep putting efforts to strengthen our positioning and create value and services for our members.
WE PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN FACILITATING ACCESS TO THE CHINESE OUTBOUND TOURISM MARKET
How would you describe your organisation’s general mission?
Our core vision “Better City Life through Tourism” defines our general mission pretty well. We believe that only collaboration and cooperation among cities can ensure a sustainable implementation of city tourism development plans and strategies. Learning from each other and sharing experiences and expertise enables both emerging and established city destinations to boost the tourism economy. It helps to increase the beneficial output of their local tourism sector and at the same time ensures the wellbeing of its local population. Secondly, we understand our role as provider of services to our members. We link the tourism related businesses that collaborate with us in our committees with our city members and play a crucial role in facilitating access to the Chinese outbound tourism market. The collaboration between our city and institutional members ensures that demand and supply are being brought together ef ciently. Our media platform increases our members’ presence and visibility and enables them to better promote their brand and tourism products. All that is key to performing better in the development of the tourism sector of our member cities.
You recently released a Chinese outbound tourism report. What are the highlights?
It points out changes and new trends in China’s outbound tourism market, helping overseas tourism cities and related tourism institutions to understand the Chinese outbound tourists in a more comprehensive, systematic and objective way giving advice and data support. This is essential for creating and promoting tourism products and services catering these group travellers. In 2017, China’s international tourist departures reached 130.5 million and they spend US$258 billion abroad. More than 60% of them went to Asia and Europe, while London, Paris and New York were the top three long-distance travel city destinations. With a mobile penetration rate of close to 70%, smart phones and mobile applications have penetrated every aspect of Chinese consumers’ daily lives. Chinese travellers more than probably any other group of visitors, use their mobile phone as their main tool for seeking information, booking, payment and communication and that is not only before their trip but also during their stay in the destination. Destinations with visa-free or visa on arrival policies for Chinese tourists attract the attention of Chinese travellers. When Chinese tourists choose their destinations, they will not simply consider the geographical distance, but will pay more attention to whether the destination is beautiful, fun and unique.
What are your key activities at ITB Berlin?
WTCF has been co-host of the ITB Convention for four consecutive years and is once again using this well-established forum to present its research findings and allow representatives of its members to share their experience.
How important is ITB Berlin as a platform to promote your activities?
ITB Berlin as the leading international travel trade show is a date in the agenda we cannot miss. For us it is not only an excellent opportunity to showcase our mission, the output of our research activities and explain the services and benefits we provide to the cities that form part of our federation, but it is also a platform that allows us to stay in touch with our members thanks to meetings and onsite consultations.
Photo: Li Baochun Executive Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF)