Dai Bin delivered an outstanding presentation on China’s tourism industry – and travel retail’s role within it – on day one of the China Travel Retail event
Hainan projects such as Mission Hills Town Center (pictured) and CDFG’s Haitang Bay complex will contribute greatly to the island’s tourism business
A stirring speech by China Tourism Academy President Dr Dai Bin, reflecting high level government support for the travel retail industry, was the main talking point of the opening day of the second China Travel Retail confernece, held by UK company Ink, in Sanya on Hainan Island.
The China Tourism Academy is a highly influential government think-tank, charged with analysing and promoting China’s tourism industry.
In an enthralling presentation to around 120 delegates, Dai Bin talked about the rising importance of domestic tourism within China, pointing out the key significance of the new regime’s focus on the pursuit of happiness by its people. Encouraging workers to take holidays was a key part of this philosophy, he said.
The government was closely monitoring the evolution of the tourism and travel retail industries, he said, noting in particular the explosion of international travel.
"The government is wondering whether we need to control outbound tourism,” he said. Reflecting government sentiment, he spoke warmly of the development of offshore duty free on Hainan Island and even hinted at possible liberalisation of the country’s duty free industry.
Dr Dai also shared information about his many discussions with central government and major retailers such as CDFG, to enhance both inbound and outbound tourism. On the subject of ‘Generation Y’ (those under 35), Dr Dai explained that the CTA’s research showed a rising hunger for intrinsic value rather than just designer label. He said that increasingly, the sophisticated Chinese international shopper was looking not for luxury, but for excellent quality, well-made items, regardless of price.
He called on Chinese airports and duty free retailers to work harder to promote a Chinese sense of heritage through their products and strategies. He said that inbound tourists should be able to buy products with local or regional characteristics when leaving the country, so they could become ambassadors for Chinese retail.

He also discussed how developments in the Middle East – specifically Dubai International Airport and Dubai Duty Free – had inspired his company to create a world-class 5-star airport experience at Haikou Meilan. Such ambitions were big, but so were the opportunities in Hainan, he said.
The event is being moderated by The Moodie Report Chairman Martin Moodie who said in his opening remarks: “Just as the Japanese drove the travel retail sector through the mid-60s to mid-80s, the Chinese have become the channel’s consumer phenomenon of the 21st century.
"It’s down to a boom in outbound travel, a still protected local market, a consumer thirst for luxury and premium brands, and huge growth in airport infrastructure and airline capacity and routes. There’s also the critical element of a central government being deeply committed to the tourism industry and doing everything it can to foster its growth, plus enlightened provincial government. That has seen the evolution of far-sighted policies such as Hainan Island’s offshore duty free shopping, introduced in 2011 with incredible impact.”
Earlier, Sanya Tourism Development Commission Deputy Director James Zheng had welcomed delegates warmly to Sanya, pointing out the prime importance of the duty free business to tourism on the island.
Hainan Haikou Meilan Airport Deputy Chairman Wang Zhen also delivered a strong speech, saying the company planned to double its duty free space at the airport to around 6,000sq m.
Excitingly, he also said that a further downtown store, featuring offshore duty free shopping for Chinese travellers, is planned for Guanglong Lake.
The planned new downtown mega stores planned in Haikou (HNDF) and Haitang Bay (CDFG), both due to open in December, would bring a “great contribution” to the tourist economy, he said.
Though high-end gift giving has been seriously impacted in recent months by new government policies, the outlook still remained bright, he said. Critical to maximising the opportunity in China was a relentless emphasis on raising training, retailing and merchandising standards.
A strong panel session dedicated to the concept of Sense of Place saw highly visual presentations from three speakers: Gary Chang, Managing Director of the Edge Design Institute in Hong Kong; Eric de Jager, CEO of Tourvest Travel Retail in South Africa and Alex Avery, Divisional Director at retail strategists Pragma UK.
Chang, one of the world’s foremost spatial architects, gave an ‘out-of-industry’ perspective, as a frequent traveller, of the communal and retail spaces in airports and shopping centres around the world, singling out some of the best design initiatives he had encountered. His speciality is finding new ways to look at restricted spaces (he lives in a 32sq m apartment) – something every brand or retailer working in travel retail can relate to.
De Jager looked at the most exciting ‘sense of place’ airport outlets in the world, focusing on best (and worst) practice examples. He explained how Tiger’s Eye (part of the Tourvest group) successfully created a destination retail concept which is not only world-renowned, but also far more successful than neighbouring retail outlets. “Travel is fundamentally about culture”, he said, explaining their success.
His message to airports was: focus on products of local and cultural significance, such as teas, herbs, spices and local handicrafts. “Encapsulate everything a country’s got and turn it into a store,” he advised.
Alex Avery focused his presentation on new airports where architectural details from the city are reflected in the retail design. He also highlighted outstanding work being done at airports including Xi’an, Mumbai and Vancouver and applauded the manner in which airport authorities are now demanding a strong Sense of Place component even in their core category tenders.
For the final session of the day, Apple Zhai, General Manager of HuiCong Research’s M+CHC (high net worth individuals) division gave delegates an insight into the spending patterns of business class Chinese travellers, based on five-years’ worth of research across China’s ten most populous cities.
Sessions on the first day were followed by One to One meetings. These were an opportunity for delegates from airports across China to meet with key suppliers to the industry. This was followed by an organised group excursion to the CDFG duty free store in downtown Sanya.
"This has been a thrilling first day of the conference”, said Event Director Alex Vail. “The calibre of the speakers and the quality of the presentations has been absolutely superb.”
The event continues with a second successive beach cocktail, again sponsored by Cognac Louis Royer this evening. It concludes today.
Editorial Message
This site contains materials from other clearly stated media sources for the purpose of discussion stimulation and content enrichment among our members only.

whatsonningbo.com does not necessarily endorse their views or the accuracy of their content. For copyright infringement issues please contact editor@whatsonningbo.com