Michelin navigates its way into nation's lucrative map market

Updated: 2011-01-12 10:55

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

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BEIJING - French tire maker Michelin entered China's map market on Tuesday by launching the first in its World Destination Travel Map Series, a move to take a bigger slice of China's booming outbound travel market.

China is the first Asian country where Michelin has introduced its map business, after bringing travel and gourmet guides to Chinese travelers in 2006.

"This launch shows the Michelin map business is speeding its pace to enter the Chinese market as well as bringing its century-long heritage to the country," said Paul Carril, vice-president of Michelin's Cartography Division.

"With the number of Chinese tourists growing significantly in the past few years, Michelin is taking this opportunity to launch its European-series maps to address the ever-growing demand of Chinese tourists," Carril said.

"It will be a major milestone for the Michelin map business in the new century."

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Chinese tourists have shown increasing interest in visiting Europe in recent years, owing to their rising incomes and the growing convenience of foreign travel.

The National Tourism Administration said last year that the number of China's outbound travelers was expected to increase by 7 percent year-on-year to 52 million in 2010, the fastest growth rate in the world. The number is projected to surpass 100 million annually within five to 10 years.

"Our map service for Chinese traveling abroad is just the first step. We still have the ambition to provide maps and even Internet map services to local consumers traveling within China," said Carril.

As a leader in the road map industry since publishing its first French map in 1910, Michelin maps have acquired a strong reputation among Western consumers.

Before the launch in China, Michelin expanded its map business in Europe and the Americas.

The first bilingual Michelin World Destination Travel Map Series consists of nine maps for 13 European countries. "We will continue to introduce more maps in China in the coming years," Carril said.

Since entering the Chinese market in 2006, Michelin's map and guide division has published seven series of Chinese-version travel guides, as well as three Chinese versions of its Red Guides for gourmets.

Michelin produced the first Red Guide for Hong Kong and Macao in 2009.

"We are going to launch four new travel guides in China soon," said Bob Miao, director of Michelin's Map and Guide in China.


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