MeetChina returns to the UAE

MeetChina, the business forum for travel buyers from China and tourism suppliers from the MENA region, returns to Yas Island Abu Dhabi for the first time since the pandemic. Taking place at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, the event will kick off on September 4, 2023, with two days of intensive meetings aimed at reestablishing tourism ties between China and the region. MeetChina is owned and operated by NPI Media, with the support of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT – Abu Dhabi) along with Yas Island as the Destination Partner. Now in its 10th year, the 2023 edition will welcome up to 100 top senior-level Chinese travel buyers. Playing an integral role in the resurgence of China’s outbound travel market, MeetChina guarantees tourism stakeholders from across the UAE an opportunity to secure business from China through pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings and networking sessions over the course of two days. Event registration is open to government tourism organisations, hotels, destination management companies (DMCs), attractions, excursion providers, shopping malls and luxury retail brands. In 2019, outbound travel from China contributed over US$253 billion to the global economy – the highest of any country. Chinese tourists took more than 150 million trips during the year, making them outsized contributors to the international travel market.

Earlier this year, the country eased all restrictions, allowing outbound travel activity to resume. According to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), Chinese travellers are projected to take around 110 million international trips in 2023, which is two-thirds of the 2019 level, while 2024 will see the country’s outbound travel figures touch the 155 million mark. During the past decade, China consistently ranked among the top five source markets for the UAE, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi attracting a majority of visitors. Despite the restrictions, Dubai welcomed 177,000 visitors from China in 2022, a 131 per cent rise from 2021, according to data from Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism. However, these levels were down 82 per cent from 2019, due to China’s pandemic-related travel policies. With restrictions now loosened, and with airlines increasing the number of international flights, the UAE is expecting a greater influx of Chinese tourists and is well prepared to meet this demand with its diverse tourism offering that helped the country surpass regional and global tourism recovery barometres. Commenting ahead of this year’s event, Rob Nicholas, Managing Director of NPI Media, said: “As the Chinese outbound travel market resurges in a post-pandemic world, MeetChina 2023 is our most important event to-date as suppliers and buyers connect to reestablish business. The proven track record of MeetChina and strategic partnership with Hala China and UShine has resulted in great interest from leading Chinese travel buyers and tourism stakeholders across the UAE.”

Liam Findlay, CEO of Miral Destinations, said: “We are pleased to host MeetChina as the Destination Partner of choice for Chinese travellers in the MENA region. Our partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT – Abu Dhabi) plays an integral role in our relationship with the Chinese market which continues to be a key source market for us. Likewise, Yas Island is a sought-after hotspot for Chinese tourists and we are delighted to provide travellers with a variety of leisure and entertainment experiences catered to their preferences. With the summer season closing in, we look forward to hosting Chinese travellers with unforgettable family-friendly offerings and world-class experiences that they have grown to love.”

Alongside the packed schedule of meetings, the Chinese buyers will also participate in familiarisation excursions. The newly-opened SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – the region’s first marine life theme park – will host a welcome dinner for delegates on the opening night of MeetChina. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit. The Galleria Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, the new immersive entertainment venue, AYA will host the Chinese buyers for a special viewing.