Even as physical-space retailers explore online channels, Ctrip, China's biggest online travel agency, is expanding its offline footprint.
A themed store featuring elements of New South Wales province of Australia opened doors in Shanghai's downtown near People's Square in March. It is a collaboration between Ctrip and Destination New South Wales, a local tourism organization, the Shanghai Observer reported.
The Ctrip store focuses on overseas destinations. It not only offers a variety of travel products but provides foreign currency exchange services online.
"Ctrip launched its offline development strategy in 2017, and so far our offline business is well-received just as our online services," said Peng Liang, analyst at Ctrip's vacation business unit.
"The offline stores are expanding from first- and second-tier cities to third- and even county-level cities. They look to make up for what may have been missed by online services, including senior consumers and areas with a lower internet penetration," said Peng.
Ctrip aims to add more than 1,300 physical stores this year. That would swell the total number of its offline stores to more than 8,000. So, even in the offline space, Ctrip would emerge as one of the nation's largest travel operators.
Inbound tourists and outbound tourists made 140 million passenger trips and 150 million passenger trips respectively in 2018, which means the Chinese tourism sector is entering a new phase for better quality, said Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy, in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency.
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