(Yical Global) Sept. 13 -- British global travel agency Thomas Cook Group Plc. and Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun Group plan to set up a joint venture to tap the potential of China's tourism market.
The new company will build a new brand of Thomas Cook in China, offering high-end customized outbound and inbound products for travel lovers. Fosun Group will hold a 51 percent stake in the new company and Thomas Cook 49 percent.
"By integrating the resources of both companies, we hope to offer unique products for customers. We are targeting mid- to high-end independent travellers, such as those who travel to the UK for football and other sports events," Mr. Wei Ruofeng, the general manager of Thomas Cook told Yicai Global.
Thomas Cook is Europe's second-biggest tour operator. It has 20 million customers and a business income of over GBP800 million (USD1 billion) a year. It is hoped that the Thomas Cook brand will help to stimulate inbound travel to China, Mr. Qian Jiannong, vice president of Fosun Group and president of Foshun Tourism & Commerce Group told Yicai Global.
"We have about 3,000 tourists a year who travel to China, and we hope to see this number increase in the future," Mr. Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook told Yicai Global.
China has the largest tourism market in the world in both market value and number of tourists. "We hope Thomas Cook will change the pattern of the Chinese tourism market, and in particular optimize outbound travel, so that we can offer new products for outbound Chinese tourists," Mr. Liang Xinjun, deputy chairman and CEO of Fosun Group told Yicai Global.
Fosun Group's investments in overseas tourism assets include France's Club Med, India's Make My Trip and Japan's Hoshino Tomaru. A year ago, Fosun Group acquired a 5 percent stake in Thomas Cook.