China's WTO entry sparks UK interest

China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to spearhead a promotional push from the China National Tourist Office (CNTO) in a bid to increase UK bookings. The CNTO’s director Baoxiang Yin believes all the changes stemming from WTO entry will also make it easier for UK groups to visit China. "In 2000 China received 283,000 visitors from the UK and we would like to see that reach 300,000," he said. "We will therefore be increasing our marketing efforts to make the UK industry more aware of what China can offer." While Yin did not specify what type of promotion would be launched, the tourist board will be attending EIBTM this year. Agencies have also seen a rise in client requests for China. Grass Roots Group operations director Mark Taylor said in addition to the WTO entry, the Olympic bid win should also boost interest. "However, we haven’t seen much promotion yet from the tourist board but there are good DMCs out there, such as Pacific World, and many five-star hotels such as the Shangri-La and Starwood properties," he said. Taylor added he would start recommending China more to clients although he would like to ensure service levels have reached a high standard. C&I infrastructure is already in place in China’s major cities. An Oriental Harbour Plaza has recently opened in Beijing, Shanghai has seen the opening of the 350-room St Regis Shanghai and Shangri-La Hotels offers 16 properties in 12 cities around the country. Convention space can be found in the capital at the Beijing International Convention Centre, offering 17 conference rooms and banquets for 200.

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