Thomas Cook has outlined ambitious plans to expand in China over the next year.
The group revealed it aims for Thomas Cook China to grow ten fold working with local joint-venture partner and Club Med owner Fosun, to match markets in Europe.
Thomas Cook China managing director Alessandro Dassi said the company will have served 20,000 customers since its launch by the end of September.
He said: “Over the next 12 months, we plan to grow this number by more than ten times.
“We have the full commitment of Fosun and Thomas Cook to support the future growth of the business.
“The ambition is to make China a sizeable market for Thomas Cook Group, comparable, over time, with our more mature source markets in Europe.”
Thomas Cook China has developed into a one-stop, full-service travel company since being established a year ago, operating inbound, domestic and outbound tourism from offices in Shanghai and Beijing.
While the China travel market is large and fast growing, and represents the world’s largest source of outbound visitors, it is also very competitive and fragmented, according to Dassi.
“There is already huge choice in the market for the Chinese leisure travellers, and a great focus on price,” he said.
One of the biggest opportunities for newcomers such as Thomas Cook comes from a rapid change in the behaviour of Chinese travellers as they move away from traditional group tour travel towards a more independent and higher quality type of travel.
Dassi added: “The industry is not yet keeping up with the pace of change in the behaviour of Chinese consumers. To exploit this gap we have focused on developing products that are truly unique and differentiated, leveraging Thomas Cook’s resources across key tourist destinations.
“Thomas Cook has looked at China for many years, but it was not until we partnered with Fosun that we had the confidence to bring our brand and resources in to China,” Dassi told the annual FVW Congress organised by German travel trade magazine FVW in Cologne.