Business flight offers new opportunities
Wei Guowen, general manager of a toy manufacturer in Ningbo, was also a passenger on the flight to Budapest. She had not traveled overseas since 2020.
Her to-do list, which she drew up before the flight, included meeting 10 clients, following up projects under negotiation, visiting Italian partners, and making three new contacts.
"Our clients were so excited that they put off their summer holidays in order to meet us," Wei said. "I took 'Xiao Yi', our original toy figurine, with me and I also aim to share the latest information about the Chinese market with foreign customers."
The flight to Budapest was also taken by Sun Chonglong, executive director of Ningbo Lianbang Changyun International Trade Co. Sun plans to introduce more products from Central and Eastern European countries to Chinese customers.
Last year, his company placed a $10 million order for Hungarian beef with a beef producer in Budapest.
"I have always wanted to discuss the details of beef processing and packaging with my partner face-to-face," Sun said. "Compared with communicating online, meeting in-person creates more possibilities. That's why I applied for a seat on the chartered flight as soon as I heard about it."
Sun visited the beef producer in Budapest on July 11. Two days later, Sun's company, which will spend $200 million importing beef over the next five years, signed a contract to be the sole agent for the Hungarian producer.
The flight from Ningbo was welcomed by Hao Weibin, head of the Hungary Chinese Tour Guide Association, who acted as guide for the group's trip to Europe.
When Hao took the arrivals from Ningbo to the China Commodity Exhibition Center in Budapest on July 11, he was asked how, in view of the pandemic, it was possible for such a group to travel to Hungary.
He replied, "The local authorities launched a chartered flight especially for foreign-trade companies." He added that many tour guides have changed their jobs since 2020, and that his family members had lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
The trip to Europe－the first tour group from China that Hao has led for two years－has given him fresh hope.
"When I was told I would be the tour guide two weeks ago, I didn't believe that the trip would go ahead, but it has really happened," Hao said.
"Ningbo has made a breakthrough, and I hope that more cities follow in its footsteps. I also believe that more tour groups will travel from China to Europe."