Trade war threatens business travel as Chinese companies slash conference budgets

The ongoing trade war between the world's two largest economies is casting a shadow on China's tourism industry, especially on the niche business travel market known as "MICE tourism."

The term MICE is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

The budget for MICE tourism is often made about one year in advance. Last year, after the China-US trade war broke out, many domestic companies felt that they were affected and cut their MICE tourism budgets. As a result, the domestic MICE industry looks a bit gloomy this year. 

Because of the trade war, China's MICE tourism might encounter an inflection point. Under the circumstances, overseas travel agencies have rolled out road shows in China recently in an attempt to grab a slice of the pie. 

Although statistics have not been released as to how much money Chinese people spent on business travel in 2018, market forecasts have pointed toward further growth. 

But now, doubt has been cast on whether China can keep up this growth trend, and judging from the anticipation of many industry insiders, the prospects are not that good. 

While market demand is down, competition is heating up. Many overseas players have increased their MICE marketing for the Chinese market by kicking off a series of road shows in China in April and May. 

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