GTA by Travelport, one of the world’s leading wholesalers of hotels, ground products and services to the travel industry, today announced that it has been selected to participate in the National Tour Association’s (NTA) China Inbound Program.
Resulting from a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in December 2007 by China and the United States, Chinese leisure group travelers will be able to travel to the US solely through China-based travel agents who work with US tour operators participating in NTA’s China Inbound Program.
GTA will also co-sponsor a gala evening on June 19 in Washington, DC to recognize, honor and celebrate the start of leisure group travel from China to the United States. The gala event, hosted by NTA and the Travel Industry Association (TIA), specifically marks China’s inaugural leisure group travel tour, which arrived in Washington, DC on June 17.
Invited guests include high-ranking Chinese and US government officials, and leaders including US Department of Commerce Secretary, Carlos M. Gutierrez; US Department of Commerce Under Secretary, Chris Padilla; US Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary, William G. Sutton; China National Tourism Administration Chairman, Shao Qiwei; as well as TIA, NTA, and other industry executives.
“GTA is pleased to be a participant in NTA’s China Inbound Program and honored to be a co-sponsor of this inaugural gala event. The opportunity for Chinese citizens to visit the US as leisure group travelers bridges cultural divides, fosters a healthy and growing travel environment and promotes economic sustainability to the travel and tourism industry,” said Ken Esterow, president and CEO of GTA. “As a participant in NTA’s China Inbound Program, we are excited to be able to offer a full spectrum of select and personalized tours to this highly anticipated influx of Chinese visitors.”
The UN World Tourism Organization estimates that the number of tourists leaving China has grown by one million people every year since 1998, and in 2006 is expected to reach over 20 million trips (other estimates place this figures closer to 30 million trips). UNWTO forecasts that total outbound travel from China will increase another 75 percent by 2010, and will reach 100 million outbound trips by 2020. According to the US Commerce Department, Chinese (business) travelers on average spend $6,000 per visit to the US, more than residents of any other nation.
“This is a significant milestone in the travel sector and NTA is delighted to have played a major role in facilitating this historical agreement – one that will benefit both China and the United States by creating an economic boost to the US travel and tourism industries, as well as greatly expanding the burgeoning Chinese travel sector. United States travel destinations will have the ability to market their brands in China, which will increase visitation and cultural affinities between the two countries as well as strengthen both nations’ travel and tourism markets,” said Lisa Simon, president of NTA. “We look forward to working with GTA by Travelport on the Gala Event and in welcoming this first wave of Chinese visitors in anticipation of the great future ahead in US-China tourism and relations.”