TUI China Travel Company Ltd, China's first Sino-foreign tourism joint venture controlled by foreign shares, was established in Beijing Monday. Visiting Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attended the opening ceremony.
Schroeder said as an important part of the bilateral cooperation between Germany and China, the joint venture will provide opportunity for the two sides to better understand each other and will strengthen economic connection.
Based in Germany, TUI is the largest tourism company in Europe. "I hope the cooperation between TUI and its Chinese partner, China Travel Service Head Office (CTS) will be successful," said Schroeder.
The establishment of the joint venture signifies a new stage in bilateral tourism exchange as well as China's more open attitude in tourism after its WTO entry, said Zhang Xiqin, deputy director of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
There is huge potential in China's tourism and the Chinese government will support the entry of foreign tourism enterprises as usual, said Zhang.
Germany was the first nation to welcome groups of Chinese tourists within the EU. The joint venture will further expand inbound tourism to China and hopefully carry out domestic as well as outbound tourism business, said Michael Frenzel, executive chairman of the Board of TUI.
The joint venture will provide quality service with competitive prices and will be finally involved in all aspects of tourism. Currently, the company is still focused on inbound tourism.
So far, some 40,000 travelers have been arranged to visit China by TUI, and the number will reach 100,000 soon. All around the world, TUI also organizes business travel, including in China, said Martin Buese, chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of TUI China Travel Co Ltd.
A special TUI company for hosting Chinese travelers to Europe was already established in Hamburg and successfully received a Chinese delegation.
Since July this year, the Chinese government began to allow the establishment of foreign holding tourism companies and single foreign investor tourism companies. In November 2002, CTS, TUI and Martin Buese China Investment Company signed a cooperation agreement. The three sides signed the contract and related files in September 2003. Foreign capital now occupied 75 percent of the joint venture.
CTS created a network of nearly 300 local CTS offices, and has control of 15 offices in China's major tourism cities. TUI owns 81 tourism wholesalers, 3,700 retailers, 287 hotels and 88 aircraft. Its annual turnover reached 22.4 billion euros (US$23 billion).
(Xinhua News Agency December 2, 2003)