Zimbabwe seeks to position itself as one of the leaders in offering a Chinese friendly destination by hosting the first ever China-Africa Tourism Conference from 20-23 March 2017 in Victoria Falls. The conference will be hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in collaboration with the Chinese Friendly International, led by Dr. Kurt Grotsch who also is the Dean of Catedra, a Chinese think-tank comprising of over 150 academics, researchers, lawyers and tourism experts in the Chinese market. The two organizations will join hands in organizing this conference that will gather over 1000 tourism players and experts from Africa and China. Participants will engage in knowledge transfer on how African countries can easily penetrate the Chinese market. Among the expected delegates will be African Tourism ministers, heads of national tourism organizations, Chinese Embassies in Africa, UNWTO, PATA, World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) and various tourism stakeholders from China and Africa.

The conference will increase cooperation amongst African destinations in offering seamless multi-destination packages suitable for the Chinese market. At the end of the conference all the conference participants are expected to be more knowledgeable of the needs of the highly travelled Chinese market. Zimbabwe is consolidating its tourism promotion efforts in China as it aims to benefit from the multitudes of Chinese long haul travel to Africa. At the end of the conference a real experience Chinese-African encounters will be compiled in the form of a White book which will further enhance knowledge sharing. It is our sincere hope that this white book will help to bridge the gap between Africa and China as ancient elder and scholar; Xu Xiake a far and wide traveler himself once said his natives “read ten thousand volumes of books and travel ten thousand miles”. According to The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) the China National Tourism Organisation; a total of 120 million Chinese travelled abroad during 2015. CNTA has revised that by 2020 China will provide over 600million outbound tourists from the earlier projected 240million. This reaffirms China’s position as the world’s biggest outbound tourism market since 2012. In particular in recent years, Chinese tourists have topped the global ranking of per capita outbound consumption, making China the world’s biggest source of tourists with the biggest spending power, and contributing to the development of the global tourism sector.

According to Tourism Highlights; 2015 Edition of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), “China, the world’s biggest source of tourists, continues its supernormal growth thanks to the increase of disposable income, strong exchange rate of renminbi, improved travel facilities and policy incentives for outbound tourism. China’s outbound tourism market has grown remarkably in the past two decades, benefiting a batch of tourist destinations worldwide, in particular those in the Asian Pacific region.” Now most countries globally are competing for the Chinese tourist market as they outdo each other to lure these tourists. It is expected that China’s per capita travel and global income contribution will double in 2020.

The move by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to host this inaugural conference are clear signs by the destination promotion leaders to reach out to the Chinese market more, given that the 46% decline experienced in that market only attaining 6 925 arrivals in 2015 from 12 927 arrivals in 2014. This is also a worrisome trend, a departure from the 30 549 Chinese arrivals recorded in 2011. This sad development is coming at a time when other African countries like Egypt, South Africa, Tanzania, Angola and Kenya are now reaping the benefits of destination promotion consistency through a visible market presence in China as they continue to record phenomenal increases in their arrivals from this market. The hosting of the China-Africa Conference offers a Pan African collaborative approach in destination marketing.